The movie Untraceable isn’t worth the time

When a movie starts out with the torturing of a small kitten you should pretty much just shut it off then. Untraceable sure seemed to want to portray an Internet age horror story with the accuracy to satisfy the techie crowd. I give it some credit for at least trying to be plausible, however using internet addresses in the intro shots with quads outside 0-255 range sure didn’t help much.

I was wondering how they were going to convince people that something was untraceable on a point to point network. Of course it turns out that Untraceable isn’t really an accurate description. What they used was more akin to a Hydra situation where you can keep knocking the server down and it’s just replaced by others from a botnet. While this explanation works on the surface it gets you into all sorts of other issues.

Botnet servers aren’t really going to be server grade. They’re useful in aggregate for doing something nasty, but more often than not they’re a grandmother’s Win98 computer in Ohio and just not all that powerful by themselves.

Next, it doesn’t really matter how annonymous you are on the internet, if you start live streaming to 15 million people simultaneously, someone in an ISP monitoring center is going to notice. Comcast would have cut the user’s account after a few seconds of that type of bandwidth.

It would have been interesting choice if the killer had been dropping bittorrent seeds all over the internet using his botnet army. This would have the benefit of having the public take an active role in the distribution of the videos. Of course, while this would be more plausible and actually harder to trace, it would take away from the drama of seeing everything live.

Another option would have been for them to include the use of an Onion Router to anonymize the traffic, which is where I thought they were going to go initially. This would have probably gone over too many viewer’s heads though.

All in all, the movie was just sadistic and I didn’t really feel that it had any real message, definitely not worth the time. They could have gone into some of the issues in much better ways without the hoops that they had to jump through and come up with a much better story.

A scarier topic, along the same lines, that is much more real would have been to focus on the anonymous harassment of school age children that can drive them into depression. A very scary and very real issue with the internet.