I think I’ve confessed on this blog before that I am a proud Luddite, a late adopter if ever there was one and someone whose eyes often glaze over when it comes to all things ‘puter-related. I can type and navigate my Mac quite well though thank god, or I wouldn’t be talking to you now!
But enough about me, and more about tonight’s documentary ZERO DAYS, some of which went way over my head but still had me on the edge of my seat. The film has been called “investigative journalism meets conspiracy thriller”, and the deft hand of the amazing Alex Gibney (Going Clear) has ensured that even an idiot like me can get the gist of what it’s all about – enough to be very, very afraid.
A chilling and challenging documentary, it has as its primary central focus Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware that has famously been used against Iranian centrifuges. Where the conspiracy part comes in is the fact that it has claimed by many to have originated as a joint effort between America and Israel, and initiated by none other that George W. Bush. Following the invasion of Iraq, Bush faced an Israel that was threatening to bomb Iran, which it claimed was developing nuclear weapons with the express aim of destroying the Jewish state. The then-president felt trapped between a rock and a hard place: a nuclear Iran, or Israel starting a war that the U.S. would inevitably be drawn into. Offered a third way, he okayed the development of the aforementioned cyber-warfare campaign against Iran that linked the NSA, the CIA and the Defense Department with Israel and Mossad.
The ease at which this all plays out is where the film’s secondary focus comes in – cyber warfare as the bigger picture. The threat of compromised cyber security has become our planet's new weapon of mass destruction, a fact that is clear even to the likes of me. ZERO DAYS explores the growing concern that the disintegration of online safety has set the stage for potential physical dangers as well, and that is no less than terrifying. "Our entire power supply can be cut off," a chilling we voiceover emphasizes near the beginning of the film. "Our systems can be taken over. Hospitals deprived of power would cease to function. It's not if, it's when. "It paints a frightening portrait of a cyber world that is growing far too large and expanding too rapidly to contain, and god knows where it can end up. "The bottom line is we are putting so much vulnerable, hackable, connected technology into so many places that this makes us prone to the willpower of any potential adversary or foe," says interview subject and computer security activist Joshua Corman, a man who knows what he’s talking about.
So in conclusion, ZERO DAYS is an essential watch, especially in light of the Trump/Russia connection and in the face of a terror that makes the nuclear war threat of old look like child’s play. Gibney is a documentary-maker who isn’t afraid to go where other filmmakers dare not, and this makes for one hell of a ride. I was interested to read that he is currently developing a “Zero Days” miniseries, working with Universal’s Carnival subsidiary with a screenplay by “The Americans” writer and executive producer Stephen Schiff. For now however, the reality is compelling enough on its own.
ZERO DAYS premieres Thursday 9th March at 8.30pm Rialto Channel. Click here to remote record