The Stuxnet virus. A super advanced piece of malware, developed by the US & Israel & launched covertly on the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, Iran, in 2011 (or there abouts) as the world’s first major “cyber attack” by a nation state (apparently the Israelis went ahead without consent/approval/full knowledge from the Americans). This slick, engrossing, utterly alarming & excellent doc from experienced director (responsible for 2006’s marvelous ‘Enron-the smartest guys in the room’) Alex Gibney, covers the lead-up to the attack, it’s event, the aftermath & the new state of vulnerability in the world (especially it’s more developed/densely industrialized regions), all in stunning detail & immaculate assembly.
As usual, every new major technological “advancement” seems to be accompanied by new peril, with massive incrementations in the capacity for exploitation, destruction, control &/or catastrophic accident. “cyber warfare” is no exception & you can thank the NSA, US Cyber Command & Israel’s Unit 8200 for the introduction of this new global arms race (as if we didn’t already have enough fucking problems). The attack was a great success (although this success was only ephemeral, with Iran essentially only being slowed down by about a year before drastically up-scaling & rolling out major counter-measures) but, it had two disastrous ramifications. Firstly, it spread the virus all over the world unintentionally, & secondly, with that very involuntary dissemination – it gave the same technology to the very regime (& others, including Russia) it was targeting. Naturally, this attack’s extreme bending of the law (indeed, much of it may have been technically illegal) & the very nature of such aggression (it seems that it’s generally considered an unspoken “act of war” by most of the cast concerned) means that this new frontier is being taken very’ very seriously for states in any kind of conflict or disagreement (especially if their adversaries are technically advanced states). We have seen more sophisticated cyber-attacks all over the world since, from ones launched against Wall Street (pretty much unanimously attributed to the Iranian’s as a revenge/warning for Natanz) to that against the NHS in England this year (the “Wanna Cry” virus). Predictably, all this “advancement” actually just makes us way’ way less safe & the world a more dangerous & precarious place.
As for the “industrial control base” (critical infrastructure systems, urban infrastructure, power plants, telecommunications networks etc’ etc) & the increasingly computerized, automated, ‘smart technology’ integrated environment…well, what can you say?… the possibility to cause massive death (the nuclear concept is just beyond frightening! Hello Hinkley!), unimaginable chaos & untold disruption is immense. It’s also (thankfully for a change) the richest, most ‘developed’ nations that are ironically, the most susceptible to such epic vulnerability. It’s really when you watch this, & ruminate the implications, that you realize (plenty of us will have been convinced already) how stupid, reckless & utterly impolitic the whole driverless car, moron gadget-smart technology, AI-digital-computerization, “smart city” (not to mention robots) direction is. The threats are astronomic, & should the security be breached (which history tells us it always is) you’re absolutely fucked! Under a terrorism lens, I don’t think ‘we’ could possibly hand ‘them’ a greater advantage/opportunity to inflict untold damage & mayhem! From anywhere in the world! & all with “zero attribution” (identity/origin of attacker(s)).
You could carve this one up over so many more points. It’s an amazing piece of journalism/documentary. Western aggression? Israeli terrorism/war crimes? Complete surveillance state/espionage/intelligence services? International relations/diplomacy/Middle East politics? The nightmarish dangers of technology? Regulation & international law/military law?
Considering the way our world is being reamed, you need to know what’s on the table & how badly “our leaders” & their umbilically connected big-business twin are fucking-up at our expense. This is extremely unsafe, & extremely imprudent, & when coupled with the Technogarchs & the AI/automation/robot calamity, it’s nothing short of an emergency.
An amazing piece of work/film.
Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media (2016)
one of the trailers really degrades the doc, with that ludicrous & vapid “Hollywood thriller” commercial presentation for arm-chair idiots…don’t be dissuaded, this is very fine & enormously informative stuff.