“Zero Days” Is “War Games” Come To Life, And It’s Terrifying

The documentary Zero Days mines the emergence and significance of the Stuxnet virus and dawn of modern cyber warfare.

“Zero Days” Is “War Games” Come To Life, And It’s Terrifying

WHAT: Zero Days, a documentary thriller from acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney, detailing the story of the Stuxnet self-replicating virus that destroyed a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, heralding the dawn of the modern cyber war age.

WHO: U.S. Cyber Command’s Colonel Gary D. Brown; Symantec cyber-security experts Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu; Richard A. Clarke, the former U.S. national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism; former CIA director General Michael Hayden; Harvard University’s Olli Heinonen; National Security Agency’s former deputy director Chris Inglis; The New York Times‘ David Sanger; and IT security experts Vitaly Kamluk and Eugene Kaspersky.

WHY WE CARE: This film deftly explains an immensely complicated subject–the Stuxnet computer virus, the most sophisticated malware ever designed, and its birth from a clandestine mission by two allies with clashing agendas, and future implications. (Per the title, a “zero day” threat is one that exploits a previously unknown computer security vulnerability.) It unfurls the subject like a mystery, presenting the information layer by layer, through experts explaining how forensic coding unveiled the virus’s structure, origin, and target, the science behind nuclear reactors, the mission’s context within conflicting and aligning geopolitical agendas, and the terrifying future of digital warfare. “When it comes to cyber weapons, the U.S. may be the most vulnerable nation on Earth,” says Gibney, “because we’re the most interconnected.” Zero Days will be released in theaters by Magnolia Pictures, and will also be available On Demand, Amazon Video, and iTunes on July 8.

About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.