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Recently while reading about security cameras in Shadowrun 5e, I came across a forum post where someone suggested that if you don't want a decker to be able to disable your security cameras, you can hardwire them. From what I understand this means that they are not connected to the matrix, but what is less clear is whether that's all, which leads me to my question: What does it mean for a device to be hardwired in Shadowrun 5e?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure how this word is used in the SR context, but the usual technical definition of hardwired is basicly "non-programable". The whole software and configuration would be written to some kind of ROM-chip. In such a case the relevant chip would have to be physically removed and a replacement soldered in. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2020 at 11:14

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It doesn't have wireless capability, meaning that its network must be physically accessed

This was confusing to research, because while I was sure I'd read something in the books on this topic it doesn't use the word hardwired! The word hardwired appears in the SR5 core rulebook once (excepting the glossary, where it appears twice), and in a narrative section:

He knew electronics backwards and forwards, literally inside and out, and all he had to do, all he had to do in the world right now, was beat this maglock and the hardwired security system supporting it. (SR5 Core Rulebook, page 15).

The term hardwire means a specific thing in the supplement Chrome Flesh, and refers to something totally different! They grant specific knowledges, similar to skillsofts. Across all of SR5, the only instances of hardwire (and variants) that I could find were that single narrative section and discussion of hardwires in (or referring to) Chrome Flesh.

The relevant section describing devices that are connected exclusively through wired connections is in the SR5 core rulebook:

WIRED SECURITY


It is possible for a network owner to decide to forgo wireless connections entirely and instead connect their system using traditional wires. This is rare due to the inconvenience it presents, but still an option for those mistrusting of the security wireless offers. All Matrix devices connect via wireless by default, with many of the less expensive ones not having a wired connection option.

If an organization wants to wire a network, the cabling must be purchased and installed throughout the location where the network exists. This limits the placement of devices and requires maintenance of the proper connections. Wired networks are still vulnerable in many of the same ways as wireless networks. If a wire is breached and tapped anywhere along its length, the signals can be intercepted and retransmitted via wireless anyway.

It should be noted, though, that between grids, hosts, IC, spiders, and GODs, corporations are feeling very confident in the security of their wireless networks. This means that runners are only likely to encounter wired security in the hands of the exceedingly protective or paranoid. (SR5 Core Rulebook, page 356)

(line breaks mine)

The practical effect of this is that, to do anything (like decking) with a wired-only device you need to physically access that device or a device to which it is physically connected. A wired-only lock can't be disabled remotely-- you have to connect to the lock itself, or a device physically linked to it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems the intent of the forum suggestion based on the real-world definition of hardwiring. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Oct 16, 2020 at 20:57

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