Contrary to 1995 movie Hackers, breaking into a computer system does not involve colorful cartoon characters. The act can be accurately represented visually, however, as proven in this excellent video created by Ben Reardon of Dataviz Australia.
Reardon's visualization transforms the act of hacking a voice over IP server into a strategic dance. The hacker shoots streams of red and white dot scans into the server, attempting to access user accounts, represented by blue bubbles. If the two meet, user accounts may be compromised, something we'd hate to see happen to anyone.
The server responds by releasing honeypots, shown here as green bubbles. These packets of disguised data will trap and confound the hacker's scans. The hacker responds by increasing the scans, attempting to flood the server to the point where the honeypots become ineffective.
In this demonstration, slowed down by 25 percent, the server is triumphant. This is just one of countless such attacks that occur every second, according to Reardon.
Sometimes it helps to visualize the process in order to better understand what occurs during events the human eye can't catch. It might not be as entertaining as the stage-diving data thieves depicted in the movies, but it's definitely a more effective learning tool.
Born to be viral: Computer fights hacker attack [NewScientist]