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Digital Fortress: A Thriller Mass Market Paperback – November 4, 2008
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In this case, the secret formula is a new means of encryption, capable of changing the balance of international power. Part of the fun is that the book takes the reader along into an understanding of encryption technologies. You'll find yourself better understanding the political battles over such real-life technologies as the Clipper Chip and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software even though the book looks at the issues through the eyes of fiction.
Although there's enough globehopping in this book for James Bond, the real battleground is cyberspace, because that's where the "bomb" (or rather, the new encryption algorithm) will explode. Yes, there are a few flaws in the plot if you look too closely, but the cleverness and the sheer fun of it all more than make up for them. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and a lot of high, gee-whiz-level information about encryption, code breaking, and the role they play in international politics. Set aside the whole afternoon and evening for it and have finger food on hand for supper--you may want to read this one straight through. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is painful to read. Most of the facts, much of which are crucial to the plot, are just flat out wrong. Dan Brown does not know very much about computers, cryptography, guns, or intelligence work, and it shows. His research was pathetic. This alone will turn off many technically-savvy folks.
Aside from that, the plot, while containing a few surprises, has very predictable twists, and any intelligent person could chart out the whole plot after about 30 pages. Even still, the pacing makes for interest, until the end. The climax was one of the worst I have ever read in any techno-thriller novel, and that is saying a lot considering how crowded this field became after Tom Clancy made it big. At best, only a cheesy early 80s movie would try to bring the final scene to celluloid (think "Wargames", but dumber). It's like a comic book.
If the gentle reader of this review is really interested in a good techno-thriller involving computers and cryptography, read "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. He is a real live programmer and cryptographer, and also a fine writer.
Without giving away any of the plot, if there is one, let me throw out some of the really bad things that made my grey matter quiver. First, two really intelligent main characters (she with a 170 IQ) who couldn't find their place in the story. If this were a movie, people in the audience would be yelling at the screen "Look out, the killer is right behind you!" The setting - Fritz Lang meets Dr. Strangelove. I really hate it when an author tries to bend truth to make the story work. For example, when the power goes out in the Crypto center there doesn't seem to be any sort of emergency lighting installed. Well duh my author, did you ever see those little battery boxes with lights on them over every exit door? They are required by law in every building constructed since Sherman redid Atlanta. Foreign Nationals with a known history of hateing the USA, working, evidently without supervision, in a top secret 'Umbra' installation. A sprinkler system protecting a billion dollar computer system? Hope those weren't government plumbers who did that installation.Read more ›
Yes, this book contains an impressive amount of plot holes, factual errors, non-existent technology, etc. The NSA (which is in fact bigger than the CIA and the FBI) is portrayed as an organization with no more than perhaps 20 employees, none of whom come in on weekends. Employees with 170 IQs who act as if they had a 70 IQ. 12 gauge printer cable? The NSA has full-time employees that work as translators -- they don't hire temp college professors to read Chinese/Japanese. Programmers/mathematicians DO NOT MAKE an exorbitant amount of money working for the NSA -- they are still subject to the federal payscale. X-eleven, not 'X11'? Brute force code-breaking as the primary decryption method????? VSLI, not VLSI??? Tracer programs which don't have to be executed, but act on their own? Ugh.
I can overlook these things if they appeared in a well written, taut storyline. In his defense, Dan Brown doesn't include a preface to this book espousing the accuracy of the books' general facts as he does in the prefaces for Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. So you have to take it as FICTION and not non-fiction. He does claim to have corresponded with former NSA employees during his research for this book.Read more ›
1. The NSA commander wants to patch some encryption code with a backdoor and replace the version on the web with his own. This won't work because no one in security trusts code that doesn't match a hash from the original author. This is how code is authenticated. Is standard practice. His patch would cause the hash to fail. Also, everyone else who really wanted the encryption code already downloaded the original version - just like the commander did. They aren't going to get a new one. What BS!
2. A $2B computer designed to crack codes would have separate code and data spaces in memory. It would be impossible for an encrypted communication to infect the host with a "virus" or "worm" because the communication would only be in the data memory space. Just because Microsoft doesn't use secure systems architecture doesn't mean the NSA wouldn't! More BS!
3. No one hand-solders CPUs even if they are in a $2B computer... And especially if there are 3 million of them! It's called "wave soldering"... Brown obviously connects hand-soldering with extreme technical know-how because he later has the head computer geek hand-soldering a chip inside a running mainframe. Can you say BS!
4. When a computer overheats, the temperature tolerance of the CPU may be exceeded by a few degrees, especially in highly sensitive, high-performance equipment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Digital fortress was a solid read. As I writer, I loved the opening.Published 4 days ago by Sydney Liston Akins-Anderson
Dan Brown is an AMAZING author who knows how to keep readers at the edge of their seats. This story is a GREAT Thriller/Mystery full of scandalous twists and turns that will keep... Read morePublished 5 days ago by eldermontoya
Another Amazing book by Dan Brown - I don't always have the luxury to read, but when I do, I like reading his books. Some I've read more than once...Published 1 month ago by scott m etter
what exaltly are people hopping to find in a book. its entertaining fun and thilling. truly a wonderful book. its great to read anothr story other than what mr. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shane Bewarder
This was a very painful book to read. The only reason I tried to finish it was because I had to pay for this. I did not finish the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by odvar
This is my favorite Dan Brown...all of his stories a great but this one was really full of surprises!Published 2 months ago by Molly