Alex Gibney brings to light yet another interesting event in history that has been generally glossed over, but fails to bring enough discussion to the table.
If I say Stuxnet, some of you may remember it as the malicious software that was believed to be built by a U.S and Israeli partnership. However, much of the details surrounding the creation of the virus, it’s purpose, and government affiliations has been shrouded in mystery. Needless to say, when light needs to be shed, Alex Gibney gets to work to tell the untold story. Altogether, the film is a well put together piece that spends too much time promoting one argument and failing to bring up any decent counterarguments.
Gibney did an overall great job, considering with what he had. Considering the immense secrecy and the overwhelming push to keep the United States’ cyber warfare actions quiet, he was hard fought to find good information or anyone willing to talk. He hit wall after wall, often voicing his frustration. However, his persistence to finally pull some interesting pieces of information is something to be applauded. Like any Gibney documentary, it is a well formatted essay from beginning to end. A well thought out and gripping introduction followed by a fact filled body and a provocative and conversation producing conclusion. In addition to that, he does a phenomenal job at explaining very complex code and computer science to a non-tech audience in an interesting way.
The issue in the documentary comes from his conclusion. At first glance, it is a great call to action to push to cut the shroud of secrecy associated with cyber warfare so a proper conversation could be had about its potential, as was the case with all other power weapons before it such as nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Gibney brings up many good reasons why the conversation should be brought up and why the secrecy should be shed, but he doesn’t offer any counterarguments to this. If this was a side argument made in the bulk of the film, it’d be something to glance over, but, this is the crux of the film. Without giving the counterargument a proper platform to stand on, he makes it seem as if shedding secrecy is the only option. There will surely be some important consequences to be considered by being more public and open about our cyber warfare capabilities, especially when ally and enemy states may not do the same in response and may not appreciate having their secrecy blown. While Gibney argues the world has been made aware of cyber weapons through stuxnet, it is something that hasn’t been on the mind of the average person in some time and open support by major nations will only cause cyber weapons to proliferate even further than it already has. If only Gibney had provided some relatively sound counterargument, the documentary would have felt more balanced rather than a one-sided tirade about the evils of secret cyber warfare.
Zero Days is a good start to the subject of cyber warfare but it is no way a defining film concerning the subject, nor does it claim to be. For what it is, it is a great watch that is sure to explain the headlines you’ve seen from several years ago. Take the chance to check it out and understand the true danger associated with cyber weapons.