Can you control your thermostat, your DVR and even your coffee maker with just a couple taps of an app on your phone? It’s cool, certainly — convenient, for sure — but it could also make you a prime candidate for a savvy new brand of criminal. It’s a great big Wi-Fi world out there and our willingness to forego our privacy for the love of the latest gadget is the catalyst for a timely new CSI spinoff.
CSI: Cyber stars recent Oscar winner Patricia Arquette as Special Agent Avery Ryan, head of the FBI’s Cyber Crime Division — a role she launched on two episodes of the CSI flagship. Based on cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, the show’s co-producer who also serves as an adviser to Europol’s Cyber Crime Centre, Ryan leads her team of expert techies and hackers into the “Darknet,” the Internet’s sophisticated underbelly where wrongdoers use its carefully guarded anonymity to commit everything from theft to espionage to murder.
“The bank robbery of tomorrow is taking 3 cents out of your account,” explains the show’s co-executive producer Anthony E. Zuiker. “The arson of tomorrow is hacking into your smart house and having all the megahertz be rerouted to your appliance to burn your house down in the middle of the night.”
But while Cyber’s premiere episode cribs from a chilling true-crime case involving a baby cam, the show’s cast and creators stress that their goal isn’t to terrify, but rather to thoroughly entertain viewers into becoming smarter tech consumers.
“We may want to question do we have to have every device Wi-Fi-enabled?” muses Arquette. “We might want to start thinking about actually buying products and supporting companies making products that keep us a little safer from this.”
Arquette says she’s especially fascinated by the mix of new and conventional crime-solving technologies CSI: Cyber offers — and, thus, its appeal to multiple generations.
“The interesting thing about cybercrime and the whole cyber world is that many of the people that are most proficient in it are really young people,” she says. “So we do want this show to be relevant and interesting to them and to also to parents, to learn how to keep your child safe. What are the things that are possible right now? What does this new technology actually mean in our lives?”
CSI: Cyber premieres Wednesday, March 4 at 10/9CT on CBS.