Dear C&E Association Members,
I would like to thank Mac Savage for the information on this very interesting and enlightening documentary. As Mac Savage has noted perhaps this documentary might be considered as a visual complement to some of the recent posts related to cyber operations throughout Canada and around the globe. A summary of the documentary (provided by Mac) is below along with two links to a PBS interview with the Director and a link to Showtime and the full documentary (there is a free trial available online if you are not already a subscriber to Showtime through your cable or satellite provider). Once again the documentary might provide an interesting departure for a professional development session within our community.
“Zero Days” (not to be confused with another movie named: ‘Zero Day’) is a two hour documentary film from Director Alex Gibney focused on Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility ……………… and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target. This is an essential and elucidating film, and, as much as it uncovers, that is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the subject of cyber warfare and espionage.
Focusing primarily on the Stuxnet virus (codename: Olympic Games), a malicious code crafted by the National Security Agency (NSA) and unleashed on the Iranian nuclear energy program by Israel’s Mossad, Alex Gibney takes us on a digi-stylized tour up the tight-lipped echelons of the CIA, NSA, and office of the POTUS. Many of the interviewees invoke the “it’s classified” response to a system that apparently has next to zero oversight and is held to little accountability.
A program designed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear centrifuges that started during the Bush administration, and was fostered under Obama’s direction, led to the rise of Iran’s “cyber army” and an even greater threat to America’s national security than what the program was intended to deter.
The documentary claims that the US and Israel jointly developed malware Stuxnet was deployed not only to destroy Iranian enrichment centrifuges, but also to threaten attacks against Iranian civilian infrastructure. It also addresses obvious potential blowback of this malware possibly being deployed against the US by Iran in retaliation.
One of the scariest take-away lessons from this is that until we acknowledge the white elephant of cyber warfare, the globe is on the edge of another threat to international peace on the level of mutually assured nuclear annihilation.
To be fair, the documentary does drag in places, and there is some ambiguity as to the breadth of who can and can’t do anything about the problem, but the ramifications of the event at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility are made explicitly clear by the whistle-blowers and implicitly daunting in the silence of our own leaders.
The two-hour movie makes it disturbingly clear that our dependence on wired communication and integrated controls has left the whole planet vulnerable to countless manipulations.
This documentary might be better titled Day Zero (if not for the other movie), because it features a doomsday scenario in which cyber warfare shuts down the electricity grids and other networks of entire countries, using computer malware.”