Cyber warfare between the US, Israel, and Iran


in Bombs and rockets, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Politics, Security

I recently saw the documentary Zero Days about state-sponsored cyber warfare in general and the Stuxnet attack against Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz in particular.

The documentary doesn’t really contain any new information for people who follow the news in this field, but it’s well put together and has some compelling interviews.

A couple of New York Times articles cover much of the same ground: Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran and U.S. Had Cyberattack Plan if Iran Nuclear Dispute Led to Conflict. These, respectively, cover ‘Olympic Games’ (the Stuxnet operation) and ‘Nitro Zeus’, a much broader plan for an across-the-board cyber attack against Iranian civilian and military systems in the event of war between Iran and the US.

An interesting discussion in the film concerns US-Israeli relations. It alleges that US support for Stuxnet was motivated in part by a desire to prevent attempted airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities by Israel. In part, this was allegedly motivated by the thinking that Israel would initiate such attacks not to destroy Iranian capabilities themselves (since that would be beyond Israel’s military means), but to force the US into a war with Iran.

The film also discusses alleged Iranian retaliation for Olympic Games, including attacks against Saudi Armaco and American banks. There’s also some interesting material about the Abdul Qadeer Khan proliferation network.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 13, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Alex Gibney has turned making documentaries into such a cottage industry over the past decade that it’s increasingly difficult to take him seriously as a filmmaker. Just since 2013, he’s directed docs about WikiLeaks, Lance Armstrong, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Scientology, Steve Jobs, and the Stuxnet worm. That list’s even split between current events and celebrities suggests opportunism more than it does passion, and so, for the most part, do the films themselves, which rarely provide more than a generic overview of their topic. Zero Days, Gibney’s latest effort, is essentially a two-hour adaptation of Wikipedia’s “Stuxnet” entry—though Gibney, to his credit, does succeed in unearthing one juicy new bit (or perhaps “byte”) of information, which was made public in The New York Times literally the day prior to the film’s premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Whether that scoop justifies Zero Days’ parade of expository talking heads—few of whom can even speak freely about Stuxnet—is debatable at best.

Most of the salient details can be summarized in a single paragraph, and here goes: Stuxnet is the name that the security community assigned to a malicious worm that turned up on computers all over the world in 2010. Though first identified in Belarus, its appearance there and elsewhere appears to have been accidental, as Stuxnet was clearly designed to target a particular brand of software (Siemens) controlling a particular type of computer (a programmable logic controller, or PLC), with the specific intent of sabotaging Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. Stuxnet’s sophistication pointed to a nation-state as the likely culprit, and it’s now widely believed that the U.S. and Israel jointly developed the project, though neither country has ever admitted involvement. Zero Days—the title refers to the nonexistent response time once the threat is identified—recounts the worldwide panic that set in upon the worm’s discovery, the painstaking efforts to reverse-engineer its purpose, and the broader concerns its existence quickly raised.

. July 11, 2020 at 7:56 pm

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: