HOLLYWOOD – This past Friday, one of the scariest movies ever produced was released to national audiences, and it wasn’t a horror film or a piece of fiction. It was a documentary.
“Zero Days” is the true story of Stuxnet, the self-replicating computer malware that the U.S. and Israel unleashed on the world while trying to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.
And while Survival Industry businesses earning revenue as affiliates of companies like Amazon can’t sell the movie yet, there are several books available that dig deep into this very real-life doomsday weapon. At the very least, survival blogs need to make their readers aware of this very real threat to life as we know it.
The film should scare audiences and politicians alike because it marks the first time a virtual product was used to destroy a physical machine.
The movie’s official synopsis reads, “Alex Gibney’s ‘Zero Days’ is a documentary thriller about the world of cyberwar. For the first time, the film tells the complete story of 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. ‘Zero Days’ is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how a clandestine mission hatched by two allies with clashing agendas opened forever the Pandora’s Box of cyberwarfare.
“Beyond the technical aspects of the story, ‘Zero Days’ reveals a web of intrigue involving the CIA, the U.S. military’s new cyber command, Israel’s Mossad and operations that include both espionage and covert assassinations but also a new generation of cyberweapons whose destructive power is matched only by nuclear war.”
Forget Jason, “Friday the 13th” or the other horror movies. This real-life tale playing at theaters and available on pay-per-view will keep audiences up for many nights worrying about the future.
Alex Gibney, the writer and director of “Zero Days,” does an incredible job of helping the audience navigate and understand the many geopolitical and technical aspects of the new cyberweapon and the implications of its existence.
In the film, Stuxnet’s emergence as the most sophisticated malware ever discovered is detailed by the private sector security experts that accidentally found it. Known as a worm because of its ability to dig from computer system to computer system, it was created to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities during the George W. Bush administration as a weapon to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions without using a military troop invasion. Unfortunately, Pres. Obama kept the program alive and lost control of it.
The problem is that it has no “command and control” functions and it has the most “zero day” codes in the software that global malware experts have ever witnessed. This means that the cyberweapon operates on its own, without an operator/hacker needing to control it, and there is no start or end date in the code. It could strike anywhere at any time.
And to no one’s surprise, the U.S. and Israeli militaries that created this monster in total secrecy underestimated the unintended consequences of its new horrible weapon, especially their inability to contain the new cyber Frankenstein.
That the monster turned on its creator and infected computers worldwide is bad enough. That the Dept. of Homeland Security discovered it in 2010 and determined it was a new threat against the U.S., without knowing our own government created it and unleashed it, borders on being maniacly humorous.
Through Stuxnet, our government accidentally targeted critical infrastructure and industrial controls systems worldwide. And this, as they say in the consumer electronics world, is the killer app. Because everything we do in the modern world – make coffee, use ATMs, check e-mail, turn on the lights, run electric grids, manage communications and transportations systems – are all managed by industrial control systems.
Everything we know and love (or hate) about modern life is threatened. But is it really that bad? Are we truly at risk of losing the modern world?
Several respected authors have effectively told this story in chilling detail.
In her book “Countdown to Zero Day,” detailing the Stuxnet attack on Iran, Kim Zetter wrote, “We have not yet begun to understand how cyber warfare might destroy our way of life.”
But we do know this: “science fiction” warfare is just like traditional war, if we can do it to others, they can do to us too, right? Well, in retaliation for our attack on their systems, Iran responded with an attack on the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, and destroyed 30,000 computers wiping out every piece of softare and every line of code.
Then Iran launched a surge attack on American banks, halting the operations of Well’s Fargo, PNC, and Bank of America for more than a day.
In his 2015 Amazon bestselling book “Lights Out,” media icon Ted Koppel says the top intelligence experts he interviewed believe the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians are already “inside the (U.S.) grid” with their versions of Stuxnet, and the only thing keeping them from destroying our systems is that the U.S. has cyberweapons in those nations’ industrial control systems too.
In other words, we are living in the world of Mutually Assured Destruction 2.0.
Luckily for movie audiences, Gibney is the kind of talent that can take a multi-layered and technical story, put it on film, and provide the gut punch audiences, and political leaders, need.
So now “Zero Days” successfully corroborates what Koppel, Zetter and countless military, intelligence, private security and cyber experts have been saying for years.
Unfortunately, there is more to the story than Stuxnet.
According to NSA testimony, Stuxnet was a “back alley operation”
While the malignant worm is the major player of the movie, it is the minor player in the entire story. Stuxnet also is not the scariest player.
According to an NSA source, Stuxnet, the most sophisticated virus or malware ever created, that changed the paradigm of virtual or cyber military offensive capabilities, was nothing more than a “back alley operation.”
Considering the rule of thumb: what we can do to them, they can do to us. And since Iran now has one of the largest cyber armies in the world, we should all be very concerned.
Unfortunately for readers, Paratus Business News is not a fan of spoilers. Suffice it to say that we fully recommend this film but will not reveal all of its twists and turns.
We believe viewers will have two key emotions at the end of the movie. One, they’ll wish they’d never heard of “Zero Days” and Stuxnet. Two, they’d regret not ever seeing the film or reading the books.
“Zero Days” is playing at theaters nationwide, and is available on iTunes.