Imagine a scenario where a computer virus has the ability to affect a country’s power supply. It sounds like the plot of a thrilling, science fiction film. It is frightening to think that this could be the future of cyberwarfare, especially when one considers this in light of the Stuxnet event. Zero Days is a terrifying documentary about this very attack.
Zero Days is the latest documentary from prolific filmmaker, Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.) Gibney does an excellent job of covering a highly classified event and breaking down this complex computer catastrophe into some easily digestible and easy-to-understand elements. While there are some questions that are left unanswered – both the Israeli and American governments have denied responsibility for the attack – this film does lift the veil on some aspects of this important piece of cyberwarfare and it will get us thinking (and worrying) about what comes next.
The Stuxnet virus was first identified in 2010. It was a very sophisticated and targeted piece of computer code. It was apparent to those in the know that this was not the work of a lone hacker. Gibney interviews some representatives from the anti-virus companies, Symantec and Kaspersky Labs who explain the mechanics behind it all. They prove excellent talent as they show how interconnected everything is and how computer malware can compromise and affect physical, real-world items.
In this case a number of nuclear centrifuges in Iran were destroyed by this malware. Gibney also describes things within the context of the assassination of some Iranian nuclear scientists. This documentary also shows what happened when the attack occurred and how it left the nuclear boffins and IT experts scratching their heads.
The most illuminating interviewee is actually an actress named Joanne Tucker. She is playing the role of a number of anonymous intelligence analysts, including individuals that work at America’s National Security Agency. This commentary provides an informative take on how analysts could infiltrate and compromise systems and the other things that they were and are able to achieve. It’s scary stuff that proves that the battlelines for the next major war will literally be in cyberspace and through computers and technology, not the battlegrounds and artillery of yesteryear.
Alex Gibney’s fresh and topical documentary is a terrifying and slick look at cyberwarfare. This entertaining and comprehensive documentary serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when technologies are compromised and information falls into the wrong hands. Zero Days does an excellent job of chronicling a subject that could have remained shrouded in the shadows and offers us a bitter pill as food for thought.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Zero Days plays at Melbourne’s ACMI Cinemas as part of the Secrets & Lies documentary film program on October 20. For more information and tickets please visit: https://www.acmi.net.au/zero-days