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Alex Gibney tackles cyber warfare in new film

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 01:44

The director of a new documentary outlining U.S. plans for an extensive cyber attack on Iran talked about the rapidly growing trend towards secrecy in the U.S. government. Rough Cut - no reporter narration.

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: The U.S. government developed a cyberwar capacity to cripple Iran's military defences, power plants and other infrastructure in case diplomatic attempts to curtail its nuclear programme failed, a documentary film shown in Berlin says. The film "Zero Days" by veteran documentary maker Alex Gibney, being shown in competition for the Berlin International Film Festival's top Golden Bear prize, says the U.S.'s National Security Agency (NSA) developed a cyberwar programme dubbed "Nitro Zeus" that it hoped would bring Iran to its knees in the event of hostilities. The documentary focuses on Stuxnet, a computer worm developed by the United States and Israel -- but never acknowledged by either government -- in order to attack Iran's nuclear programme and sabotage centrifuges that were enriching uranium. Through accounts of whistleblowers, analysts, journalists and secret service officials, the documentary shows how Stuxnet was the first known attack in which computer malware left the realm of cyberspace and caused physical destruction. The film hints, based on accounts of several NSA insiders, that Stuxnet was just the tip of the iceberg. According to these accounts, the NSA spent "hundreds of millions, maybe billions" on Nitro Zeus to be prepared for the eventuality that Israel decided to attack Iran and the United States would be drawn into the conflict. Details of the Nitro Zeus programme were revealed in the New York Times on Wednesday in a report by David Sanger, its chief Washington correspondent, who appears in the film. The film suggests that Israel moved independently from its U.S. partners and changed the code of the initial Stuxnet virus in such a way that it spread all over the world with unforeseeable consequence, including allowing other governments to copy it. Before its discovery in 2010, Stuxnet took advantage of previously unknown security holes in software from Microsoft Corp and Siemens AG to penetrate Iran's facilities without triggering security programs. The film "Zero One" derives its title from the term used for previously unknown flaws in computer software that hackers and spy agencies can exploit to attack networks in order to damage infrastructure such as hospitals, transportation systems or power plants.

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Alex Gibney tackles cyber warfare in new film

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 01:44