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Mr. Robot Season 2 Hacks and Exploits: Operation Berenstain and Stagefright

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eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p1-mrrobot-season2-episode8-sensorstechforum

Have you been impatiently looking forward to Mr. Robot’s second season? Do you always have questions about the hacks that take place during the show? Are you often pausing to have a closer look at what’s written on that PC screen? Stay tuned! We’re also hooked on Mr. Robot and we’ll be looking for answers ourselves on an episode-basis.

SPOILERS ALERT!

This week’s episode, eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p1, is completely free of Elliot and Mr. Robot! The episode is focused entirely on fsociety and more particularly, on Darlene, Mobley and Trenton. There are also hacks to inspect but none of the hacks are your average Mr. Robot’s hacks (easily explained by Elliot’s absence).

First, the tradition commands us to decode the episode’s title – eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p1.


eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p1: Title Decoded

So, what’s a successor? In mathematics, the successor of a whole number is the number obtained by adding 1 to it. Clearly, the successor of 0 is 1; successor of 1 is 2; successor of 2 is 3 and so on. Basically, every whole number has its successor.

On Mr. Robot’s side, the successor appears to be Darlene, which is implied at the very beginning of the episode. It’s the flashback scene which reveals how Trenton and Mobley first met, and how Mobley easily fell for a social engineering trick (continue reading for further details).

Mobley and Trenton are clearly waiting for Elliot to show up at the coffee shop, but instead they get to meet Darlene, his successor. Eventually she starts telling them the story about humanity’s biggest adversary, ECorp. The whole episode is based on Darlene as it gradually reveals what she is capable of.

Considering how the story with Susan Jacobs played out and how cold-blooded Elliot’s sister turns out to be, one question arises. Is Darlene slowly and steadily becoming the new Mr. Robot in everyone’s life? Not to mention she was the one wearing the mask and performing the speech in front of the camera!

It’s also refreshing to see that for once Mr. Robot can be about anything but Mr. Robot… (Or can’t it? Darlene’s feeling quite comfortable in Mr. Robot’s shoes.) Nonetheless, everything that is happening, like fsociety struggling to stay above water, is a consequence of the Five/Nine hack.


What about the Hacks in eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p1?

The social engineering Trenton did on Mobley and the Stagefright vulnerability

Stagefright is the collective name for a group of software bugs, that affect versions 2.2 (“Froyo”) and newer of the Android operating system, allowing an attacker to perform arbitrary operations on the victim’s device through remote code execution and privilege escalation. The underlying attack vector exploits certain integer overflow vulnerabilities in the Android’s core component called “Stagefright”, which is a complex software library implemented primarily in C++ as part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and used as a backend engine for playing various multimedia formats such as MP4 files.

The vulnerabilities have been provided with multiple Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) identifiers, CVE-2015-1538, CVE-2015-1539, CVE-2015-3824, CVE-2015-3826, CVE-2015-3827, CVE-2015-3828, CVE-2015-3829 and CVE-2015-3864.

Trenton almost successfully rooted Mobley’s phone. While talking about their phones, she learns about his fascination with Android, and it’s not difficult for her to trick him into visiting a particular page. If the two weren’t interrupted by Darlene’s arrival she could have successfully compromised Mobley’s device.

NUP_173604_1903.0

Later in the episode, Mobley and Trenton use a specific app for communication which definitely deserves attention, especially if you’re privacy-savvy.

The Wickr App Mobley and Trenton use

The Wickr instant messaging app is a great alternative for users who wish to keep their messages private.

The app allows users to exchange end-to-end encrypted and content-expiring messages, including photos, videos, and file attachments. The good news is it is available for the iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

The Susan Jacobs Multiple Account Breach

This whole time, fsociety have been using Susan Jacobs’ smart home for their operations. It seems that they completely forgot all about her when she caught them by surprise. She picked the worst possible time to go back to her smart house!

What can a hacker group do to countermeasure an unwanted event? Hack the person who’s responsible… once more.

The hackers request to reset Susan’s Gmail password which sends an email to her Yahoo account so that she (or in this case, somebody else) can create a new password for the Gmail account. While at Susan’s home, we also see another example of bad password hygiene. Trenton finds Susan’s password written on a post-it note lying around her house and waiting for a hacker to pick it up…

Operation Berenstain

We now know what the classified operation Berenstain was all about. Thanks to fsociety eavesdropping on the FBI, the whole Mr. Robot universe now knows about the surveillance project that intruded the privacy of more than 3 million people!

How did fsociety eavesdrop on the FBI? They most likely succeeded in grabbing the conference call dial-in information the femtocell hack.

Hacking a conference calling system is not that difficult. All a hacker needs to do is gain access to a phone number and a call PIN. As it played out, the legitimate call participants didn’t have a clue somebody was eavesdropping on them.

Darlene and Cisco’s “love” story

Did anyone expect that Darlene’s coldbloodness would reach a new high? Not only did she knocked Susan down but she was also zero hesitant when she found out that Cisco was playing her, which brings me to wonder even more what’s Dark Army’s stake in all of this.


Where will Mr. Robot go from here? Evidently, next week’s episode will have to take us back to Elliot. We need to check how he’s doing after admitting he was lying this whole season. Now that Ray’s story is closed, he’ll definitely need to get closer to fsociety and all the “demons” they’re dealing with.

mr-robot-darlene-elliot

Will Darlene approach him for help? We have seen her ask her big brother for help previously, but considering how (violent and determined) she turned out… Will Darlene and Elliot be on the same page? Sure, Elliot may have harmed (or killed?) Tyrell but he created a whole universe so that he wouldn’t have to deal with his actions. He felt remorse. Darlene didn’t. Darlene wanted chaos and destruction all along.

My one question now is… Who’s going to play Mr. Robot from now on?

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum for 4 years. Enjoys ‘Mr. Robot’ and fears ‘1984’. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles!

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9 Comments

  1. The Watcher

    I really like this show! I worked as a graphic designer on the first season, so I got to read all the scripts, now I miss getting to read them and know ahead of time what will happen!
    What do you think about the possibility that Operation Berenstain is a covert Government Operation aimed at controlling reality, and Elliot is just the first victim?

    Reply
    1. MilenaDimitroff

      Wow, I envy you!

      As for your theory… I too think there may be more to the Operation Berenstain than the explanation we were given. There’s one theory going around that Operation Berenstain has something to do with a parallel reality, and it may be what you’re suggesting. I am pretty sure Whiterose holds most of the pieces to that puzzle. Do you think his two identities are actually from two different realities?

      And if it’s truly something like that I’ll be more than a happy viewer! I love it when TV shows and movies deliver well-thought surprises :)

      Reply
      1. The Watcher

        Oooohhhh… I like this!

        Reply
        1. MilenaDimitroff

          :) My theory went even further, I even thought Tyrell was sent to another dimension but I am not so sure anymore!
          What’s your wildest Mr. Robot theory?

          Reply
          1. The Watcher

            I started wondering… Maybe Darlene is somehow the key to the whole thing.
            I remember reading an interview where they said there was a definite reason that a young Darlene wasn’t there during the last episode of Season 1 (during Elliot’s hallucination in Times Square, after the 5/9). So, maybe, she is behind all this mayhem. Maybe she has somehow broken free from a parallel existence in order to take control of this one.

            Otherwise… there is another possibility that maybe this is all taking place in a Quantum Computing machine, and we, as the audience, are maybe watching a simulation of sorts?

            Believe me, you don’t want to get me started on these theories Milena!!

          2. MilenaDimitroff

            Oh on the contrary – I don’t mind it at all :) Your theories are intriguing (and I’ve also thought that everything could be a lie, a variation of the truth, or a simulation like you said)

            Your second theory reminds me of a movie, The 13th Floor… Have you seen it?

          3. The Watcher

            No, I haven’t. I just read the plot on Wikipedia, sounds pretty much spot on!

      2. The Watcher

        So… Now that we only have ONE episode left, WHAT IS GOING ON??????

        Reply
        1. MilenaDimitroff

          I was on vacation and I will post my point of view as soon as I can! I am kind of afraid of spoilers and I haven’t looked anywhere yet :)

          Reply

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