Most sensible internet users know that malicious hackers can be pretty scary once they get their digital claws into your data. But one information security firm has decided that people aren’t quite scared enough – so they’ve launched a series of warnings based on classic horror and dystopian sci-fi movies.

Surfshark has drawn up five posters based on original promotional material or concepts embodied in iconic films, each warning of a specific danger on the internet, and posted these on its website along with exhibition-style content explaining them.

“Wanna feel scared?” asks the introduction to Surfshark’s Digital Nightmares page. “Streaming a movie can catch [sic] your device a nasty virus, compromise your identity, or deliver your banking details to thieves.”

Sidney Prescott wannabes then have the smug smiles wiped off their faces, as Surfshark continues: “And despite what the Scream [horror movie] franchise taught us, the virtuous are not safe. Think you’re watching a film legally? You got another thing [sic] coming. Today’s pirates don’t just peddle movies – they share streaming apps and add-ons that look legit but may be riddled with malware.”

Mock poster referencing Hitchcock classic Vertigo to warn about cybercrime

Your own worst enemy?

The Copycat poster draws on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo, in which the protagonist played by James Stewart falls for a doppelganger of his dead lover, only to be drawn into a psycho-sexual obsession that undermines his identity and perception of reality.

“How many of YOU ARE THERE?” demands the mock poster. “Identity theft can happen to anyone. Protect your personal information with strong passwords.”

“Hitchcock was a master of the switched-identity twist,” Surfshark adds in a digital placard below the image. “The ‘master of suspense’ had audiences covering their eyes in an era where blood and gore were minimal. One trick was to destabilize that most fundamental human value: the sanctity of identity.”

Poster showing half human half cyborg head looking down at tiny helpless humans.

You are being watched…

Another poster, dubbed The Eye, spoofs director Ridley Scott’s cinematic exploration of “dystopian retro-future, where technology backfires” – specifically the 1982 sci-fi classic Bladerunner and its unsettling observations on how cognizant machines might perceive us. The Surfshark image depicts a face that appears to be half human, half digital, looking down on four tiny helpless figures.

“THEY KNOW WHO YOU ARE,” declares the poster. “Facial recognition technology threatens privacy. To stay out of facial databases, be careful how and where you share your photos.”

Mock poster that shows figure emerging from 'magic' portal against creepy forest background.

Dark arts of the digital spymaster

Another poster targets spyware, working off the mythological trope implied in the Pegasus Project to link it to the creepy kind of folklore found underpinning many scary movies (admittedly a bit of a stretch, but no less fascinating for all that).

“Are you old enough to remember when Blair Witch Project (1999) was the most important movie in the world?” asks the placard below this poster. “Sánchez and Myrick’s low-budget ‘found footage’ hit changed what was acceptable in cinema and horror. We reckon the folk-horror feel echoes the Greek myth inspiration behind Pegasus.”

“Spyware hides on your device and steals sensitive data,” says the poster, pointing its gnarled witchy finger at Pegasus, the NSO-developed software allegedly used to spy on journalists and dissidents. “Remember that ‘free’ software has a cost, and only download trusted apps from official stores.”

Whatever you do, don’t bite!

Two more posters on the Surfshark page – Beware the Cheater and Bait – use themes and images from the zombie-comedy film Shaun of the Dead and “enemy-within” suspense movie Get Out to alert readers (or should we say viewers?) to the perils of DDos attacks and phishing.

“[Shaun of the Dead director Edgar] Wright is known for his kinetic tributes to gaming and movie tropes,” observes Surfshark. “His characters all seem the type to, you know… be lazing around at home playing games when a DDoS attack drops in from nowhere to ruin their life.”

It adds: “Phishing is a play on ‘fishing’ – criminals drop bait and wait for you to bite. That bait takes the form of a fake text message or email from your bank. Either way, your credentials end up in the hands of bad people.”

All five posters can be downloaded in printable format at the Surfshark web page, which closes out with this warning: “Horror is a diverse and inventive genre. You know what else is diverse and inventive? Cybercrime! Don’t become the Non-Believer of your own personal horror movie. Get your passwords updated, your VPN on, and DON’T GO INTO THAT DARK WEB!”

You have been warned…

More from Cybernews:

New leak reveals: global governments exploit the Pegasus cyber-surveillance tool

Yandex claims to be hit by the largest DDoS attack in history

Researchers find more than 1,200 phishing toolkits across the web

Will facial recognition payments replace your bank card?

Identity 3.0? How to guard privacy in the metaverse

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