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Zero Day (Jeff Aiken) Hardcover – March 15, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Microsoft computer guru Russinovich's first novel, a cautionary tale about the imminence of the great cyber attack to wipe out the Internet, works pretty well as a thriller, though it takes a while to boot up and for the bodies to begin to fall. Arab terrorists, with the collusion of Osama bin Laden, are behind the attack, which is supposed to destroy Western civilization. A New York City law firm enlists cyber expert Jeff Aiken to track down a virus that has knocked out the company's computer network. While working on this problem, Jeff uncovers the larger threat. With the help of "stunningly attractive" Daryl Haugen, an old friend who becomes his love interest, Jeff attempts to warn the authorities, but to little avail. The author effectively employs the usual genre types—government traitors, amoral hackers, professional assassins—but his main characters spend too much time at the keyboard to build up much heat. Bill Gates provides a blurb. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The horror of cyberterrorism explodes on the page in Russinovich�s first novel. A plane over the Atlantic suddenly needs to reboot its computer to stay in the air, and the pilots barely avert disaster. A hospital network mixes up patient information, resulting in the death of several people. A law firm, which has lost all of its clients' data and can�t get its system running again, turns to Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst and computer expert. He discovers that all of the crashes are insidiously connected, and an even greater disaster is coming. Computer technospeak is handled with ease by Russinovich, who makes the jargon understandable for nongeeks but does so without losing authenticity. His background at Microsoft ensures that he knows what he�s writing about, but, equally important, he constructs a gripping narrative. A terrifying tale made all the more frightening by our concern that it could offers a glimpse into the future, Russinovich�s thriller just could become one of those books that prompts a real-world response, in this case a wake-up call for greater cybersecurity methods. --Jeff Ayers
Top customer reviews
It was somewhat of a cross between a story about IT and terrorism masquerading as a thriller. I have read several novels where the authors have been successful explaining complicated concepts about finance, space, maths, government etc in a clear, lucid fashion with amazing effect. The author does start the book with some conceptual discussion about viruses, root kits, cloaking mechanisms, anti virus companies, NSA, etc, which is an interesting read. However, the second half of the book reads like an amateur writing thrillers by the week. Overall, a great primer exploring plenty of what-if scenarios, but with limited technical details. Think of amateur Michael Crichton novels!
What makes Zero Day stand out is the author's background and credibility, its focus on cyber terrorism and how realistic it is. It's fiction, but not beyond possibility. There is a lot of reality in Zero Day. When the central character, Jeff Aiken, remarks that a piece of malware "seems Russian" at first glance, there are actually real reasons for that.
We see failures and attacks of all kinds all the time, but for Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst who lost his love in the attack of 9/11, he sees a pattern, and given his background, he pushes the issue. Jeff teams up with a beautiful US-CERT expert Daryl, and as they unravel the mystery the action spills out into the real world towards the end of the book.
Even if you don't consider yourself to have much computer expertise, you should not be put off by this book. The explanations are very good and don't get in the way of the story.
As well as technical aspects being realistic, the book is well written. The chapters are short and sharp, with memorandums and news stories interspersed throughout the book, which was a nice touch. I read it within one and a half days. It was well paced and highly enjoyable.
For non computer folks this a gripping cyber thriller which will highlight our dependence on computers and expose the hidden vulnerabilities that comes with that dependence.
For computer folks without a security background Zero Day will be the easiest to digest, most enjoyable security lecture you'll ever receive.
For computer security folks this will be your first, and maybe only, chance to read the same book as your significant other and marvel at assembly code listings and accurate descriptions of rootkit techniques.
To quote Mark: Go update your anti-virus software - and then read this book.
I was definitely not disappointed. From the first page I was totally engrossed in the story. The pace is quick enough to ensure you will want to finish the book in one sitting but the writing style takes the time to develop the characters of the two protagonists as well as the villains and bystanders in the story. In my opinion I could find no fault in the plot, character development, writing style etc. (I am no literary critic but I have read more than my fair share of literature)
Being technical literate I can vouch for the authenticity of the technology used. Although this is a work of fiction the reality sends an icy chill down my spine as the book's premise is quite feasible with current technology out there.
I am really looking forward to Mark's next book and can safely recommend you get this one and pre-order the next at the same time.
Most recent customer reviews
The characters are believable, but their actions are many times at odds with their explained (oh...Read more
Realistically I would have preferred a white supremacist pepper as the bad guy.