- Series: A Lana Elkins Thriller
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: 47North (September 23, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1477825053
- ISBN-13: 978-1477825051
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 307 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,726,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lethal Code (A Lana Elkins Thriller) Paperback – September 23, 2014
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"Taut, tense, and provocative, this frighteningly knowing cyber-thriller will keep you turning pages—not only to devour the fast-paced fiction, but to worry about how much is terrifyingly true." —Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Truth Be Told
"Lethal Code is not just an outstanding, harrowing thriller about a massive cyber attack against the United States, it is based on the very real cyber threats we face today and should serve as a wake-up call to all Americans. As the president and CEO of a cyber security firm, I can tell you that Waite has done his homework.” —Corey Thomas, President and CEO of Rapid7
“Lethal Code is a compelling and well researched thriller about a major cyber attack against America. Waite’s characters bring to life the very real cyber vulnerabilities we face every day and demonstrate that America’s cyber insecurity is a serious national security issue.” —Melissa Hathaway, former cyber advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama, now President of Hathaway Global Strategies
"No matter what you do or where you live, a massive cyber attack against the United States will impact your life. That's what Waite demonstrates so convincingly in Lethal Code. He shows us the effect a hit to the country's solar plexus would have with a tale that will leave you gasping for days, whether you're a business person or a private citizen concerned about our nation's defense vulnerabilities." —David DeWalt, Chairman and CEO of the network security company FireEye
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The story line revolves around a cyber-attack on the US that cripples nearly everything... power grids, control systems, nuclear facilities, etc. The terrorists make their initial show of force by turning off the power across the entire country for a 24-hour period, and tens of thousands die in various accidents and fires. But that's just the beginning, as they are not content to stop there. The plan is to eventually annihilate the country with their own nuclear missiles, and it looks like there is little that can be done to stop them.
But that wouldn't be much of a story if that was it. A small (and unlikely) team of security and intelligence experts (and one person who was originally fingered as the mastermind of the attacks) are put together to head to the Middle East to infiltrate the suspected organization that is running the hacking operation. They have to do what no one else has been able to pull off... find the site of the hacking attacks and stop them before America becomes a heap of radioactive rubble.
I liked the characters and the pacing of the story. I had no problems with feeling like things were dragging or that I didn't care what happened. I had more issues with the technical aspects of the story. Everything was just too perfect in terms of what the hackers could do. Things were done at a massive level with pinpoint precision, but many of the systems that were affected wouldn't have been accessible from the outside to begin with. While it might be possible to plant viruses in missile systems and such, there's no way that you could control them from an external site over the 'net. Also, knowing the technical state (or lack thereof) of many critical systems, the thought of being able to hack and control all of them at once is... non-existent.
Having said all that, it was still a fun read. Techies might get overly hung up on the details, and as such would have a hard time enjoying it for what it is. But if you're willing to let that go and "go with the flow", it's good.
Obtained From: Amazon
It would take a very ...
Well, I'm not going to throw in any spoilers, here. Thomas does a good job pulling this off using a tight, tough struggle in a no-holds barred effort to get to the root of the problem. He also brings in the reality that this scale of chaos brings a similar scale of destruction and death, and the aftermath ... well, that would be another spoiler.
It is a good, solid story and gets you into the inside of the characters trying to solve the problem. Thomas touches on the technology involved, but doesn't weigh the story down with a lot of techno-babble that just makes it all obtuse. He keeps it accessible.
I give it five stars because I loved the story. I'm a geek. Can't help it. But, I did have a couple things that jarred a bit, but didn't affect my rating.
1. Cell towers have batteries. Depending on how much use a specific tower gets, it should stay live for 4 to 6 hours during a power outage. Maybe less.
2. Internet backbone routers and servers are on battery backup. During a power outage, they should remain functional for a couple hours before they start shutting down.
So, if the grid goes down, there should still be some mobile phone, texting and Internet working for a little while. Those services shouldn't just die with the power. Thomas' experience may be different, as I'm West Coast and he is East Coast. It is entirely possible that cell and Internet service in the D.C. area will die immediately.
3. When no one else could use the Internet, satellites or other data assets, the SEALS had access to something. Yeah, they are SEALS and I'd be the first to give them the benefit of the doubt, but what were they accessing?
It took me a while to get around to writing this. I'm well aware of the "cyber" threats to our country and the potential for disaster. The cyber criminal element costs billions of dollars in damage to business, industry and individuals every year. Nation-state cyber-espionage and hacking are a real problem and our government and industries are constantly being attacked and secrets are regularly harvested. What I didn't want to get involved with is spreading more FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). There is plenty of that going on in too much of the information security industry. There is also too much ignorance, or ignoring of basic information security practices, by those who should know better and those who should be held to higher standards.
But, Thomas puts together a scenario that is not just FUD, but entirely possible. In that, it is scary. Could this scenario happen? Could this much damage, destruction, and loss of life take place? Yes, and yes.
The question to ask is: Do we have the trained people, systems and practices in place to defend ourselves against a scenario on this scale?
Unfortunately, no. We need to demand more and better from our government, our major industries, our financial institutions, our retailers, our schools and universities, when it comes to information security and technical education. Information security is everyone's responsibility.
The one thing that ruined this for me: there is absolutely no way that hackers could take over America's nuclear missile launch computers, because those computers are not physically (or wirelessly) connected to the internet. In fact, no classified computer system is physically connected to an unclassified system. There are even requirements for the minimum distance that has to exist between classified and unclassified network cables to prevent any sort of electromagnetic crosstalk. Which is why classified computers are never hacked remotely. The only way classified information can be retrieved via remote computer hacking is if someone erroneously puts classified data on an unclassified system which is subsequently compromised.
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