USA’s Mr Robot is an incredible show. And uniquely in the landscape of popular media, its depictions of technology are actually pretty… accurate! But that said, the show does take a few liberties. Here, for your reading enjoyment, is an educational series clarifying a few of them.
Throughout the series, Elliot, the main character, can be seen hacking into remote servers, social media accounts, mailservers, etc., all from the convenience of his lightly furnished apartment, or on the clock at work. We can assume he has at least taken basic steps to obfuscate his identity, such as routing traffic through anonymous-ish Tor servers, but the fact that he is initiating the connections from networks that are easily traceable back to him is, well, silly.
Look at it this way, if the producers of an X-rated Batman film have the wherewithal to locate and sue people who have illegally downloaded copies via bittorrent, wouldn’t we expect at least that much out of the security firms protecting the world’s biggest multi-national corporations? (The answer is yes, yes we would.)
In fact, not only should Elliot avoid using his personal Internet, he should avoid using any computer environment that has ever had any personal connection to him. The eyes of Facebook and Google and a million other data-traders and traffic analyzers follow you everywhere you go online. You can delete your cache, clear your cookies, disable your plugins, but still, zombie cookies will come for you. Elliot should, at the very least, be doing his dirty deeds from a fresh Virtual Machine or a LiveCD/USB.
But hey, that’s television for you. And this particular simplification makes a lot of sense from a production standpoint. Minimizing locations will keep the budget down and the shooting schedule on track. Viewers might also be less confused if characters return to the same place twice.