HBO and Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) are ready to pull back the curtain on one of the most important moments in the history of modern cyber warfare with the new limited series Stuxnet (working title). Based on Gibney’s 2016 cyberwarfare documentary Zero Days, the project focuses on the spread of a self-replicating computer virus developed by the United States and Israel to disable and destroy nuclear facilities in the Middle East.
Deadline Hollywood also reports exclusively that Stephen Schiff (The Americans) will serve as the series’ scribe, with Gibney set to direct as well as produce alongside Marc Shmuger. Carnival Films (Downton Abbey) and Participant Media are set to produce.
“I first came across it when I was doing We Steal Secrets—the Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning film—and it was really pointed out to me by Marc Shmuger, who’s a producer on the film. I thought it was interesting, but at the time, I thought it was a purely sort of “Gee Whiz,” Tom Swift technical story. I didn’t understand at the time that it was something deeply fundamental about where we were heading, in terms of spying and cyber conflict. That didn’t happen until we started to make the film.”
“It sent another kind of message, too, which is, the United States and Israel will use weapons and attack people first, and that sets a different kind of precedent for other countries, as well: Why shouldn’t we do the same? You can say that what we did with Stuxnet was an undeclared act of war—it was an attack on critical infrastructure in a time of peace. That sets a terrible legal precedent. Right now, the norm in cyber is, do whatever you can get away with. Well, if you’re an average citizen, that’s not a very comforting idea.”
– Alex Gibney
Here’s the official overview of the upcoming HBO series Stuxnet, described as “a tale of hackers, spies, nuclear secrets, and how one clandestine mission opens the Pandora’s Box of cyber-warfare forever — a new era of global conflict without rules.”
In the mid-to-late 2000s, the United States and Israel jointly developed Stuxnet, one of the most elegant, ingenious and terrifying pieces of malware ever created, which was used to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Stuxnet was originally designed as an invisible tool for covert operations, which would aid in sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program—but when Israel went rogue, modifying and transmitting a far more aggressive version of the Stuxnet worm without U.S. approval, missteps on their part led Iran to uncover the identity of their assailants, opening the door to a new, unregulated era of cyber warfare.