If you caught Episode 2 of the new GoT season, you know that Arya Stark is back in all her glory.
Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the second episode of the new Game of Thrones season. You may have already watched it when it was leaked a week ago or you’re getting ready for RSA and have it DVR’d. Regardless, all you need to know is that Arya Stark makes a few appearances and she rocks out loud.
I try not to get too attached to any characters in A Song of Ice And Fire since George R. R. Martin has a penchant for killing them as soon as I do, but it’s hard not to love Arya. She’s just childish and fearful enough to be human but is otherwise so utterly intrepid and independent that most of the knights of Westeros can’t hold a candle to her, at least in terms of sheer moxie.
Arya is swift and small. She evades. She infiltrates. She survives. She escapes. Wait a minute...that sounds like a hacker. Check out this schematic of an advanced cyberattack:
That sounds about like Arya. Sure, she’s not quite as systematic about it. She’s a bit more seat-of-her-pants, of course, but her targets are well-defined (“Cersei. Walder Frey. Meryn Trant. The Mountain…”), she’s quick to try a new approach when she hits an obstacle, she’s persistent to a fault, and finds ways to survive when most people her age would have abandoned their quest long ago. Arya, in fact, is not just the ultimate hacker, she’s the ultimate advanced persistent threat. The great GRRM has no compunctions about killing off Starks, but hasn’t managed to take out Arya yet. Obviously, the season is young and there are still books to be written, but she’s tough. Who knows? Arya might be one Stark who actually survives.
Again, this isn’t much of a stretch from what we see from hackers and advanced persistent threats. These attacks are carried out over long periods of time, use sophisticated malware and a variety of tools to breach a target, and then stay resident on a network undetected for as long as possible. Often, they morph, conceal their identities in new ways, and deploy new tools, again avoiding detection. Sure, Arya has Needle and her lightning wit instead of customizable malware platforms, but she fluidly takes on new identities, hiding from everyone who wants to find her, and seeking out her targets with grim determination.
No, Arya Stark is no wallflower daughter of a dead northern lord. There’s a reason that her father didn’t survive Season 1, while Arya is still making trouble in Season 5 with no end in sight.