The Exploit

episode 1 episode 2 episode 3

BASTION is an ERC-funded project focused on computer security with an emphasis on the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT. Your smartphone, commercial drones, pollution monitoring stations, home security systems: these are just a few examples of the increasing number of devices that are connected to the Internet today. The downside is that these devices can be manipulated or abused by an adversary. Your smartphone can be hacked; your data can be accessed and compromised. Potential vulnerabilities concern all connected devices and affect essentially everyone.
The team headed by Prof Dr Thorsten Holz plans precisely to improve security in the “Internet of Things” and on computer systems in general. Thorsten and his team will proactively search for potential vulnerabilities (in other words, they will hack objects!), and in parallel they will design novel security mechanisms meant to protect such objects from attacks.

In The Exploit, by Ira Marcks, you will be projected to 2032 where you’ll meet the Cynical Cyclops club, composed by young Lane and Charlie, who went from hacking science fairs to compromising the school exams of a whole country. But this is just the beginning: Lane will end up with her father in the middle of a global technological scandal exposing the vulnerabilities of a world-wide network of integrated systems…

Next episode will be online on December the 12th


Thorsten Holz (researcher)

Thorsten Holz is a professor in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. His research interests include technical aspects of secure systems, with a specific focus on systems security. Currently, his work concentrates on reverse engineering, automated vulnerability detection, and studying latest attack vectors. He also studies bots/botnets, automated analysis of malicious software, and studying latest attack vectors. He received the Dipl.-Inform. degree in Computer Science from RWTH Aachen, Germany (2005), and the Ph.D. degree from University of Mannheim (2009). Prior to joining Ruhr-University Bochum in April 2010, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Automation Systems Group at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. In 2011, Thorsten received the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize from the German Research Foundation (DFG). In 2014 he received an ERC Starting Grant for the project BASTION, the inspiration behind The Exploit, aiming at improving security within the Internet of Things.

Ira Marcks (artist)

Ira Marcks is a cartoonist living in upstate New York. His books include the graphic novel, Witch Knots, an illustrated adventure book, The Aquarium Drift, and a kid's guide to artistic careers, Creative Every Day. His work is inspired by vintage cartoons, science fiction, poetry and children's books. His experiments with narrative art have appeared in the Hugo Award Winning sci-fi/fantasy magazine, Weird Tales, and culminated in an eighty-foot 'illustrated music video' created in collaboration with Vimeo founder, Jake Lodwick. His proudest moment was when comic theorist and Understanding Comics author, Scott McCloud wrote a thoughtful blog post about his work. Ira also teaches creative illustration and narrative art on the learning platform, Skillshare.