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Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (ICE) is a term used in cyberpunk literature to refer to security programs which protect computerized data from being accessed by hackers.

The term was popularized by William Gibson in his short story "Burning Chrome", which also introduced the term cyberspace, and his subsequent novel Neuromancer.[1][2] According to the Jargon File, as well as Gibson's own acknowledgements, the term ICE was originally coined by Tom Maddox.[1]

When viewed in a cyberspace virtual reality environment, these constructs are often represented by actual walls of ice, stone, or metal. Black ICE refers to ICE that are capable of killing the intruder if deemed necessary or appropriate; some forms of black ICE may be artificially-intelligent.



The term ICE is encountered in cyberpunk fiction.



  • Phantom 2040, though in it "ICE" stands for "Integrated Cyber Environment", referring to cyberspace, rather than Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics[3]

Card games

  • Netrunner, where the corporate player uses ice and the runner player uses icebreakers; while corps in Netrunner understand ICE to be an acronym for "Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics", the runner viewpoint is that the acronym should be for "Insidious Cortical Electrocution"


Roleplaying games


  • Johnny Mnemonic, mentioned in the opening crawl.
  • Takedown (2000), wherein a friend of Kevin Mitnick says in a club that he is the hacker known as "IceBreaker"


Video games

  • Anarchy Online features an item called "Hacker ICE-Breaker Source", which can be further upgraded to "Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics Upgrade".
  • Deus Ex, where the player's hacking program is referred to as an "ICE Breaker". The Nameless Mod, a modification for Deus Ex, also features Black ICE as a powerful security program.
  • Dystopia, wherein there are security programs called "ICE walls"
  • Mr. Robot, where "ICE" in its RPG part refers to shields or armor that can be attacked by various "ICE breaker"s
  • System Shock, where ICE is represented in cyberspace as both autonomous security programs and ICE protection attached to data or software objects appearing as blue crystal formations.
  • System Shock 2, where an item that auto-hacks electronics is known as an "ICE Pick"


  1. ^ a b c "Ice". The Jargon File. 2003-10-27. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  2. ^ a b William Gibson (1984). Neuromancer. Ace Books. ISBN 0-441-56959-5.  
  3. ^ "Fire and I.C.E.". Phantom 2040. No. 4, season 1.

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