Zero Day (Jeff Aiken Series #1)

Zero Day (Jeff Aiken Series #1)

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Overview

Over the Atlantic, an airliner's controls suddenly stop reacting. In Japan, an oil tanker runs aground when its navigational system fails. And in America, a nuclear power plant nearly becomes the next Chernobyl.

At first, these computer failures seem unrelated. But Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst who saw the mistakes made before 9/11, fears that there may be a more serious attack coming. And he soon realizes that there isn't much time if he hopes to stop an international disaster.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250007308
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Series: Jeff Aiken Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,118,025
Product dimensions: 5.62(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

MARK RUSSINOVICH works at Microsoft as a Technical Fellow, Microsoft's senior-most technical position. He joined the company when Microsoft acquired Winternals software, which he confounded in 1996. He is also author of the popular Sysinternals tools. He is coauthor of the Windows Internals book series, a contributing editor for Tech Net Magazine, and a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro Magazine. He lives in Washington State.

Read an Excerpt

Zero Day


By Mark Russinovich

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2011 Mark Russinovich
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6804-1


CHAPTER 1

MANHATTAN, NYC
SATURDAY, AUGUST 11
12:01 A.M.


"Shhh!"

When the whisper came out of the darkness, the man stopped. A vast panel of glass covered the wall before him, displaying uptown Manhattan in a scene that might have been sold as a poster. Ambient light and the soft glow from a dozen computer monitors was all that spared the room total darkness. The logo of Fischerman, Platt & Cohen floated on each monitor.

In the hallway, the steps faded. A moment later her fingers touched his arm, pressing lightly against the soft skin on the inside of his wrist, her flesh much warmer than his. The thought of her so excited aroused him even more.

She tugged and he followed. "Over here," she whispered. He tried to make her out in the darkness but all he could see was her form, shapeless as a burka. They stopped and she came into his arms, on him even before he realized she'd moved. Her scent was floral, her mouth wet and also warm, tasting of peppermint and her last cigarette.

After a long moment she pulled back. He heard the whisper of clothing across nylon, the slight sound of her skirt dropping to the carpet. He sensed, more than saw, her form stretch on the couch. He unbuckled his trousers and let them drop around his ankles. He remembered his suit jacket; as he removed it, her hand touched his erection through his undershorts. She tugged them lower, then encircled him with her fingers.

Her grip guided him, and as he entered her, a single computer screen sprang to life behind the groaning couple. Turning blue, it read:

Rebooting ...

After a few seconds, the screen flickered and read:

NO OPERATING SYSTEM FOUND.

The screen turned black.


BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT 188
NORTH ATLANTIC, 843 MILES OFF NEWFOUNDLAND
FRIDAY, AUGUST 11
12:01 A.M.

The flight attendants were clearing breakfast in the passenger compartments as Captain Robert McIntyre scanned the dials of the PFD, the primary flight display, once again. Beside him, copilot Sean Jones sat facing dead forward in that semihypnotic posture so common to commercial pilots on extended flights.

The sound of the twin engines well behind the pilots was distant. Outside, air slipped past the airplane with a comforting hiss. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 289 passengers, all but flew itself. Once the airplane reached a cruising altitude of thirty-seven-thousand feet, the pilots had little to do but monitor the instrumentation and be available should something go wrong.

The airplane could take off, fly itself, and land without human assistance. It was state-of-the-art, fly-by-wire technology, which meant the airplane had the latest in computers. The manual controls, such as the throttle and yoke, were not physically connected to anything, though they were programmed to give the feel that they were. Instead, they emitted electronic signals that moved the parts of the plane needed for control.

Computers had even designed the plane itself. So convincing was the computer construct that the airplane was approved for commercial use and had gone straight to production without a prototype. McIntyre commented from time to time that the 787 was the most beautiful and well-behaved airplane he'd ever flown. "Any plans in New York?" he asked his copilot.

Jones sat motionless for several long seconds. "Excuse me," he said finally. "Did you say something?"

"Want some coffee? I think you were off somewhere."

Jones yawned. "No, I'm all right. I get so bored, you know?"

McIntyre glanced at his wristwatch. They were still more than an hour out of New York City. "Better watch it. You'll be on record in another half hour."

The cockpit voice recorder functioned on a half-hour loop, constantly recording thirty minutes at a time, again and again. Pilots had long learned to be utterly frank only when they were not within half an hour of approach or for the first half hour after takeoff. These were the times anything unusual occurred, if at all. Once in the air, the airplane was all but unstoppable.

"I know, but thanks. 'Plans,' you asked? Nothing much. How about you?"

"Just a walk in the park, I think. I'm too old for the rest."

"Right. Tell it to your wife." Jones glanced back outside. "What's the altitude?"

"Let's see, right at thirty-seven thousand ... Jesus, we're at forty-two thousand feet." McIntyre scanned the dials again as if searching for an error. The airplane had climbed so gently neither of the men had noticed. "Do you see anything on the PFD?"

"No. Looks good. We're on auto, right?" They'd been on autopilot since London. This wasn't supposed to happen. The plane had just come out of a complete servicing. All of the computer software had been reinstalled, with the latest updates. Everything should have been functioning perfectly. Instead, they were on an all but undetectable gentle incline.

"Right," McIntyre said. "I'm resetting auto. ... Now." Nothing changed. After a moment he said, "Altitude is 42,400 and climbing. What do you think, Sean?"

Jones pursed his lips. "I think we've got a glitch. Shall we go manual?"

Pilots were under enormous pressure from the company never to go manual except at takeoff and on approach for landing. The computer not only flew the airplane in between but did a far superior job, increasing fuel efficiency by as much as 5 percent, a great money saver. If the pilots went manual, the flight data recorder, which kept a record of everything from preflight to postflight, would record it, and they'd have to file a report justifying their action.

"Airspeed's dropping," Jones said evenly. The autopilot was not only failing to keep the airplane at the proper altitude, but it hadn't increased power to the engines to compensate for the steady climb.

"Altitude is 42,900 and climbing," McIntyre said.

The door opened behind them and the senior flight attendant, Nancy Westmore, entered. "Are we climbing, boys? It feels odd back there."

The pilots ignored her. "Airspeed is 378 and dropping," meaning 378 kilometers per hour, well below the standard cruising speed of 945. "Altitude is 43,300 and climbing," Jones said.

"Have a seat, luv," McIntyre said. "And strap in. We're going manual." Westmore, a pretty blonde, blanched, then dropped into the jump seat and buckled up. The two had carried on an affair for the last three years.

"Bobby," Jones said, "PFD says we are approaching overspeed limit." The computer was reporting they had exceeded their normal flight speed and were approaching a critical limit.

McIntyre looked at the controls in amazement. "That's impossible! Airspeed is 197 and falling." The yoke-shaker program engaged and the stick began to rattle in front of him. In traditional airplanes, the yoke shook at stall. In the 787, the computer simulated the effect for the pilots.

At that moment the stall warning came on. "We're nearly at stall! It can't be both. Going manual ... now."

A soothing woman's voice spoke. "Warning. You are about to stall. Warning. You are about to stall. Warning ..."

But when the autopilot disengaged, nothing happened.

"Are you nosing down?" Jones asked, looking over, seeing for himself that McIntyre had pushed the yoke forward.

"No response," McIntyre said. "Nothing. Jesus!"

"Airspeed 156, stall. Altitude 43,750, still climbing. Holy shit!"

Then the mighty 787, cruising at over forty-three thousand feet, stalled. All 427,000 pounds of the airplane ceased to fly as the plane nosed up a final moment, then simply fell toward the blue ocean eight miles below. All three experienced a sensation of near weightlessness as the plane plunged toward the earth. Westmore closed her eyes and locked her mouth shut, vowing not to make a sound.

Behind them came a roar of passengers screaming.

As it stalled, the airplane lost its flight characteristics, which depended on forward motion through the air for control. The plane fell as an object, not as an aircraft. Without comment McIntyre pulled the yoke well back, fighting to maintain some control and keep the craft upright. Without air control, the plane could easily roll onto its back. If it did, they were lost.

Under his breath Jones said, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee ..." He scanned the PFD. "Airspeed 280, altitude twenty-nine thousand."

"Jesus," McIntyre said. "I've got nothing." The yoke was not giving him any feel. The plane was moving through space absent any control. "Engaging auto!"

Through the closed door came more screams. Neither pilot heard them.

Jones reached over and engaged the autopilot. Both men were trained that in an emergency, the autopilot had a superior solution to any they could come up with. They'd been shown example after example of pilots wrestling with airplanes until they crashed, doing the wrong thing over and over, when the autopilot would effortlessly have saved the craft.

"Patience. Give it time," McIntyre said as if to himself.

Another long moment passed. Nothing happened. The airplane wobbled to the right, corrected itself as it was designed to do, then wobbled to the left.

"Airspeed 495, increasing; altitude twenty-seven thousand, falling," Jones said. He resumed the Hail Mary.

"Mother of God," McIntyre muttered, "hear me. Disengaging auto. Setting throttle to idle!"

The airplane was now in a significant dive, and the crew could feel the buildup of airspeed as it rushed toward the sea. The sound from the passengers was now a steady desperate drone. The plane was well nosed forward. The horizon, which should have lay directly in front of them, was instead high above.

"Airspeed 770, altitude twenty-two thousand!" Jones's voice had risen an octave.

"Shit!" McIntyre said. "God damn you!" he shouted, cursing the airplane. "Reboot," he commanded. "Reboot the fucking computer! Hurry up."

Jones tore his eyes from the PFD. "Rebooting." They were under strict orders never to reboot in flight. This was a ground-service procedure. Jones fumbled for the switch. "Got it! Not responding, Bobby. It's not responding! It's locked!"

"Kill the power." McIntyre's face shone from sweat. "Hurry. We haven't much longer!"

Jones looked to his right, ran his hand and fingers down the display, found the master switch, and flipped it off. The PFD went black.

"Wait!" McIntyre snapped. "Give it a second. Okay. Now!"

Jones flipped the switch. "On!" There was a pause. The dials before them sprang to life.

From behind them came a steady roar of terror punctuated by loud noises, as luggage from the overhead compartments and laptops flew about, striking anything in their own flight path.

"Engaging auto!" McIntyre said. Nothing.

"It's still rebooting," Jones said. They couldn't know for certain either their airspeed or altitude, making reliable decisions impossible. "I estimate fifteen thousand with airspeed in excess of 836." They were nearly at standard cruising airspeed. "We're falling fast."

The nose was now well down as the 787 plummeted toward the earth. The air slipping across the exterior controls of the airplane had restored flight control, but the yoke still denied it to the pilots.

The sensation of falling was palpable. Behind the men now came a high-pitched howl neither could place. It was neither mechanical nor human. McIntyre glanced back, expecting the worst, and realized it was Westmore. He hadn't thought it possible for a human voice to make such a sound. "Quiet, luv," he said, trying to calm the terrified woman. "Please!" He turned to the front. "Disengaging auto!" In front of him, filling the entire windshield, was the blue expanse of ocean.

"It's rebooted now!" Jones shouted.

Without warning, the plane suddenly responded to the yoke.

"Oh, shit," Jones said, as the captain began to try to raise the nose of the plane. The dials were giving information now. "Airspeed 915, altitude eight thousand! Easy, Bobby, easy. Don't overdo it." If they managed to pull the aircraft out of the dive, the danger was that it would rocket uncontrollably into the sky, a situation nearly as deadly as the dive itself.

McIntyre pulled on the yoke steadily. His face was masked in sweat. His breath came out in short, labored puffs. The plane was pulling up in response to his command, but the horizon was still much too high, the space before them nothing but ocean.

"Airspeed 1034, altitude four thousand! Oh, God!"

McIntyre pulled back more forcibly on the yoke. They felt the g-forces as he compelled the airplane out of the dive.

"Airspeed 1107, altitude three thousand!"

"Come on, you bastard, come on." McIntyre pulled the yoke well back, all but certain one of the wings was going to come off.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" Jones said. The g-forces pressed them heavily into their seats.

"Get up, get up, motherfucker." Behind the men, Westmore screamed again.

"Airspeed 1122! Altitude twenty-three hundred!" Jones said in a high-pitched voice, almost in falsetto.

"Climb, you bastard, climb!"

Suddenly the g-forces vanished as if an invisible hand had been lifted from them.

"We're climbing!" Jones said with a laugh. "We're climbing! Airspeed 1103, altitude twenty-six hundred!"

Flight 188 rocketed into the sky like a ballistic missile.

CHAPTER 2

MANHATTAN, NYC
FISCHERMAN, PLATT & COHEN
MONDAY, AUGUST 14
9:07 A.M.


"Coffee? A Danish?" she asked with an inviting smile.

"No, thank you. I'm fine," Jeff Aiken said, considering closing his eyes until summoned for the meeting.

"Mr. Greene will with be with you any moment."

Jeff, still in a fog from his hasty trip, didn't take the time to admire what he sensed was an inviting view. The receptionist was not yet thirty, stylishly dressed, trim, obviously fit, but wearing the latest hairstyle, which made her look as if she'd just crawled out of bed and sprayed it in place.

Jeff had received the urgent call Saturday night — Sunday morning, actually — right after falling into a deep sleep, still dressed, splayed atop his bed at the Holiday Inn in Omaha, Nebraska. He'd just finished an exhausting all-night-all-day stint at National Interbank Charge Card Services. Their security system had been so porous that financial crackers, as criminally minded hackers were known, had systematically downloaded the personal accounts of more than 4 million "valued" customers. News accounts reported that the data looting had gone on for two weeks before being discovered. Jeff had tracked the information loss back more than three months and guessed it had been going on even longer.

Once he'd agreed to fly to Manhattan and negotiated a substantial fee for his time, it had taken all day Sunday to finish the security checks he'd installed on the new NICCS system. He doubted it would save the company from the ire of its violated cardholders, or federal regulators. If the company had spent a thousandth of his fee on routine security earlier, none of this would have happened. He never ceased to be amazed at the mind-set of supposedly modern executives. They still conducted business as if this were the twentieth century.

He'd arrived at the Omaha airport just in time to catch a red-eye to New York City. This would be his first trip there since the death of his fiancée, Cynthia, at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and he was almost overwhelmed by a range of unwelcome emotions. For an instant it was as if he were reliving the horror all over again. By the time he'd taken a taxi downtown, checked in and showered, he'd pushed his terrible memories aside and caught exactly ninety minutes sleep before shaving and dressing to arrive for this 9:00 a.m. meeting with Joshua Greene, managing partner of Fischerman, Platt & Cohen.

"Mr. Aiken?"

Jeff opened his eyes and realized he'd fallen asleep. He glanced at his watch: 9:23. "Yes?"

"Mr. Greene and Ms. Tabor will see you now. Are you sure you don't want some coffee?"

"Thank you. You were right. I'll take a coffee after all. Black." He smiled sheepishly. "Better make it a large."

The receptionist laughed, flashing brilliant white teeth. She showed him through the double door into the managing partner's office. "I'll get that coffee right now," she said.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Zero Day by Mark Russinovich. Copyright © 2011 Mark Russinovich. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Zero Day 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Have you ever experienced a virus, Trojan horse, spam, worm, etc. on your computer? It seems overwhelming when it happens, but imagine if it began to happen to computers around the country all at once. Imagine that, unlike your problem, this national problem doesn't seem to be fixable at all. The bottom line is financial loss at a devastating level but also other consequences never before contemplated. A horrific scenario begins to multiple in Zero Day, a novel about the deadly effects of a computer virus deliberately designed to keep replicating itself and spreading through vulnerable spots on other computers. So far it has caused multiple deaths in a hospital where computerized medication programs went awry from this "glitch." An airplane drops thousands of feet in seconds, unsure of recovery. Automatic computer robots in an automobile factory go haywire, causing the death of the man assigned to monitor them and shutting down so that business comes to a total standstill. Dams fail, nuclear power plants fail, and on and on and on. It seems the stuff of futuristic science fiction but is a present day threat ever looming in a world increasingly reliant on computers for everything. Jeff Aiken and Daryl Haugen are the best in the business. If they can't find the source and solution for these nightmares about to destroy America, no one can. Jeff is recovering from a traumatic loss and unsure of anything, but his intellectual curiosity quickly pulls him into the nonstop search for answers, possibilities that seek to find if this is a sicko individual act or a scenario being implemented by much larger international groups with terrorist goals. The clock is running now to Zero Day, involving an international connection that brooks no interference and is determined to be the hand of fate on the world. If you aren't a computer geek, some of the lingo and explanations are going to pass right by you; but there's enough information and ever-developing, terrifying plot developments to keep you riveted to every page. If you are a computer pro, you're going to absolutely love every page of this story that actually provides the technological lingo which shows the realistic potential for this unstoppable plot to unravel in cyberspace. There's a tad much on repetition, but it's bearable and serves to reinforce the awful threat effectively happening. Zero Day: A Novel covers a scenario frequently imagined but never, fortunately, realized to date beyond what can adequately be handled and responded to. It seems, according to Mark Russinovich to be a warning to businesses, government, and computer professionals that cyberwar is and will be our next war, with implications far beyond what the experts usually predict! Great novel about a very important issue!
Tempo More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and educational, this techno thriller is Mr. Russinovich's first novel and it sends home a very eye opening and unsettling message. He has an extensive background in computers and networks and has been an esteemed Technical Fellow at Microsoft. In his story he presents a very vivid picture of the vulnerabilities and devastating outcomes that are possible in a cyber attack on the US and Europe. The story starts out slowly with an investigation into the mysterious failures and anomalies of a number of major computer systems. The technical aspects are well researched and clearly presented and developed for the reader. In the second half the pieces come together and fast paced action to avert the impending cyber attack, becomes more dominant. I found the story and characters interesting, but the best part of this book is the depiction of the vulnerabilities of our way of life in our increasingly computer/network relevant world. Especially recommended for inquiring minds on what can only be one of the major emerging issues of new age.
dougga More than 1 year ago
I love a good fiction novel, and with it in my field this was extremely enjoyable. I hate to think this would be considered Science Fiction, but that is probably the best category. Ten years ago it would be definitely SciFi. In today's world, it is scary to think that this could be non-fiction. If you work in the IT world and have not read the book, get a copy and start reading. Great read.
bbnetman More than 1 year ago
Even if I had not been working in networking and security for over a decade I believe I would still like this book. It is a thriller set in the real world with a security crisis that could happen at anytime. The two main characters, a man (Jeff) and woman (Daryl) are likeable and I would definitely like to read more about them. Then plot is good, we do some traveling and you always needs a good assassin which Zero Day has. Mark Russinovich can be proud of this one and I can not wait for his next, hopefully with more Jeff & Daryl!
harstan More than 1 year ago
A British Airways plane flying over the Atlantic finds its controls suddenly failing. In Manhattan Fischerman, Platt & Cohen hires computer security expert Jeff Aiken to determine what caused a total system failure. Department of Homeland Security Division of Counter Cyberterrorism operative Daryl Haugen investigates a computer virus that at Brooklyn's Mercy Hospital caused several deaths. Other deadly incidents also occur due to computer failure. A former government official Aiken and Haugen discuss their cases. Each is stunned with the similarity. They soon connect other recent system failures to theirs. The conclusion each reaches is that a Zero Day globalization attack is coming rather soon. The entertaining story line is linear yet exhilarating and frightening especially since author Mark Russinovich is an expert on the topic as his résumé brings a scary possibility to the cyber attack that the thriller focuses on. Aiken and Haugen seems real because they know they cannot stop all the incidents leading to Zero Day and people will die, but want to prevent the pandemic disaster from happening. Fans will enjoy this powerful cyber-terrorist attack that showcases how vulnerable the West is. Harriet Klausner
JandST More than 1 year ago
On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It's a good story and fairly well executed, although I found the characterisations a little flat and stereotypical. Solid story with average writing. The pacing was good. If you're a tech/geek, you'll almost certainly enjoy the tale, but in my opinion it's not the best example of the tech thriller genre.
BigDaddy9z More than 1 year ago
The scariest part about this book is how absolutely possible this is. Very similar to Dr. Robin Cook type novels except instead of medical thriller - this is technical. Mark tells a tale that could all too easily happen in real life. Very well written, it will keep you hooked. I hope he writes another because there is never a better book than one written by someone who KNOWS the industry. Too many authors have to go do a ton of research to be able to speak intelligently about a subject. Mark is a renowned expert - from being the inventor of the Sysinternals suite which everyone who works in IT uses... to becoming a Technical Fellow at Microsoft. So it just flows naturally for him. I also work for Microsoft (though regrettably I don't know Mark personally... haven't ever even met him but he has been a hero of mine for many years). I work in one of the most highly technical departments at MS and I can tell you, the technical aspects of the book are spot on. You'll enjoy it.
murphy430 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Vince Flynn and Brad Thor espionage books. Mark Russinovich's Zero Day ranks right up there with these guys. His cyberterrorism book held my interest from page one to the end. I found it to be fast paced. Sadly, this is something that could happen someday and it would be devastating. If you enjoy a good espionage story, you'll enjoy this cyberterrorism novel.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zero Day is a debut novel for author Mark Russinovich. I have to say the book wasn't too bad for a first. The plot was excellent, the characterization was decent and most of the writing was pretty good. I did have a couple too many problems and irritations for me to give this a 3.5 or 4 star rating.The biggest irritant to me was the hax0r chats between Jeff and Daryl. It was also used between hackers which felt right but between these 2 intelligent, successful, highly educated individuals it felt like much more of a gimmick and 'see isn't this cute!' kind of thing. I use chat and the more important the information I'm trying to convey to the other party the more I try to use correct spelling, grammar and even punctuation. While I could see using some short cuts (which I do as well) those passages seemed to have a lot of thought put into making them as foreign as possible while still technically readable, mostly by taking out all the vowels unless it was the first letter.The second thing this book was the pacing and plot got a little thin in the last 80 or so pages. Mark was a Microsoft employee and his writing about the viruses and security holes as well as his descriptions of the investigation shows here. But when we get to the action scenes near the end, it felt cribbed from a Borne movie or even from the Da Vinci Code. A little too convenient and clean.Jeff Aiken is called in to a law firm to help get them recover from a devastating computer crash. Most jobs are fairly straight forward affairs. Not easy, (that's why he gets paid the big bucks) but generally these things follow one of several known patterns and then the company will be up and running again. This time Jeff appears to have a completely new problem. While Jeff is working on with the law firm, Daryl Haugen has been getting reports of some really nasty viruses and worms affecting all kinds of systems, from Hospitals to Airlines and even Nuclear Power plants. All of which had fairly decent security in place. A very scary picture is forming and no one that matters believes it's a serious threat. When Daryl and Jeff get together and compare notes, it's even worse. It looks like someone is coordinating an attack on the US via the internet and they quite likely are going to succeed.Overall, great premise, strong plot and about a subject that really should be more in the front lines of peoples thoughts. Protecting our systems from an outside attack. Fun book and a quick read.
asigg44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I won this First Reads book from Goodreads.This was a very good book, one that could be realistic in many ways! At first I had trouble understanding the various computer terminology, as I am not very computer-savvy, however, Mr. Russinovich did a very good job explaining the terminology as the general public would understand it. As the book went on, it became a very enjoyable read!This is a story about a terrorist attack by computer virus. In this stressful day and age, the reality of this kind of attack is very possible in our society. This made the book even more interesting, knowing that it could very well go from fiction to non-fiction at any time. The main character, Jeff, is a computer expert who has worked for the US government but who now has his own company fixing computer issues from many prestigious companies. He is called to do some work at a law firm, who had lost data presumably from a computer virus. What follows is a very intense, detailed account of how this virus attack has been masterminded as well as how Jeff and his associates have tried to fix this virus before it takes over the US and European computer systems. There is some romance, some intrigue and a large amount of action in this book. I would recommend this book to just about anyone. It has a bit of everything for everyone and is a very smooth and enjoyable read. Very good book!
csayban on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drawing on a distinguished career in the computer world that included being one of the top dogs at Microsoft, Mark Russinovich has turned his experience with cybersecurity into a save-the-world thriller. The novel¿s premise of terrorists using computers and the Internet to stage the next great offensive against the western world is both plausible and frightening. And while Russinovich has a more thorough grasp of the methods by which such an attack is possible, he fails to deliver a convincing story. The first two-thirds of the book reads more like a technical position paper rather than a thriller. Russinovich spends virtually all of his time engaged in dialog discussing how all these bad things can actually happen. After a hundred pages of it, I just stopped paying attention to all of the minutia. It reads like the kinds of conversations I¿m sure the computer geeks sit around and have every day after work. Russinovich even provides us conversations in ¿geekeese¿ to try and decipher.¿JA33: Thr ws 1 gy tlling anthr abt sllng packgs and triggrs. Gttng good $ fr t.D007: Any nme we knw?JA33: Superphreak. He¿s hndlng t rtkits, slick bstrd.D007: Gv me t site. I¿ll put smn on it fulltm.¿I¿m not sure what is more frightening ¿ that people actually communicate like this or that Russinovich felt readers needed to be subjected to it. And when the action final began so very late in the novel, he used every over-the-top thriller cliché without any sense of realism or even common sense. I couldn¿t help but laugh at how silly it all became. Even the supposed ¿twist¿ at the end fell flat. By then, I just couldn¿t have cared less. Ultimately, Zero Day takes a very real and very frightening modern day threat and turns it into something as boring as reading stereo instructions. The geeks might run the world and the Internet might be the death of us all, but after reading Zero Day, it appears nobody will give a damn when the end comes.
joemmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a cautionary tale about cyber-terrorism, by Mark Russinovich, who is in the top tech position at Microsoft, so he should know!As we use computers for more and more, we have the technology to help keep ourselves safe, but not everyone uses it or keeps it up to date. Cyber attacks are a real threat, and in this book we see the nightmare come to life. The threats escalate, deaths happen, due to computerized pharmacy records, businesses face ruin, and a reactor meltdown is imminent.Jeff Aiken is a former government analyst who now owns his own security business, cleaning up messes. His client is a law firm who have lost all of their electronic records, billings, briefs, etc. As Jeff tries to close in on the virus, hospitals are being hit with the wrong prescriptions being given to patients, resulting in deaths. An airliner loses control and nearly crashes to Earth.Jeff contacts others working in the cyber security business to see if they have uncovered anything like what he is dealing with. The trail leads to Russia and France where people are being murdered to keep the secret and time is running out.This was a very modern thriller, full of technical information, but not so much that I couldn't understand it.Security is no simple thing, but backing up and using the tools available to us is a good start. I immediately backed up, updated antivirus and spyware software, and ran it all! Yes, it scared me silly!!This book was an intelligent thriller with a message. We are vulnerable, both personally and as a society.I can recommend this to anyone reading this blog, since you are probably on a computer, and to anyone who loves a good thriller.I received this book for review from Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists. Thank you!
realfish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zero Day is a treat for readers who enjoy cyber thrillers. The author, Mark Russinovich, is a technical fellow at Microsoft, author of several operating system internals books, and a contributing editor to several tech magazines. The result is a well written, fast paced thriller from an author who really knows his stuff. Several reviewers commented that the book is too technical and/or a soap box for the author to push his agenda regarding computer security (or should I say the lack of). I have to vigorously disagree. I feel the technical descriptions not only add to the sense of impending doom the protagonists face but give the story a level of credibility sometimes lacking in books of this genre. In addition, I really enjoyed deciphering the leet speak dialogue (even if I did grow up in the days of magnetic tape and nine inch floppies). While I am certainly no computer techie, I whole heartedly agree that computer security is something most people feel "only happens to the other guy." Between reformatting my kid's and wife's computers and hearing horror stories from almost all of my contemporaies how can i (we) not take this seriously. The book starts with a bang and keeps building from there. For a first novel, I thought the characters were fairly well developed and convincing. The plot flowed with only one or two hiccups that I noticed. I also enjoyed the way the author finished the book. All-in-all, I felt this was an excellent first novel and look forward to reading additional works by this author. If you enjoy cyber thrillers with a technical edge, this book is for you.
SandyLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first saw the movie, THE NET, I thought that was the worst that could ever happen with computer technology but ZERO DAY proves creative people can always find ways to use their talents to cause harm. The anniversary of 9/11 is approaching and chilling events are taking place. An airliner¿s onboard computer fails to respond, same at a nuclear plant, an oil tanker, and even a hospital where a computer gives out the wrong dose of medicine killing several people. Jeff Aiken lost a fiancée in the Twin Towers and had resigned from the CIA because his boss wouldn¿t believe all the warning signs Jeff had pointed out. He now owns his own computer tech company and is called in to help fix a computer problem at a legal firm. When he starts to see a pattern in some of the messages from other incidents, he gets suspicious. A tech at the law firm assisting him sends a message through a hacker chat room hoping to draw out the culprit. When she turns up dead, Jeff figures he¿s next. This is a chilling example that makes stealing identities seem like child¿s play. The only confusing part is the ending. This reader was led to believe Jeff was able to stop the attack, but this is followed by events still taking place. Although a good thriller read, I am not tech savvy so much of the tech language and descriptions were lost on me.
jazzzak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. The subject matter of cyber-terrorism is a modern day threat and a definite possibility as well. I enjoyed the development of the characters throughout the story and the way the various characters and sub-plots drew closer and eventually merged at the ending. The main character, Jeff, was a realistic person trying to deal with a seemingly insurmountable problem. He wasn't the standard adventure character with years of military special operations training, he was a regular Joe Geek who had a lot of knowledge and experience in the computer, hacker and intelligence world and good enough ethics to try to do the right thing.I also enjoyed how Russinovich developed the bad guys in this story. Many authors don't take the time to delve into this side of the story or explain what makes the other side tick and make the decisions that they do. I thought the ending was a little bit of a surprise, which I enjoyed. Real stories don't always end with everything tied up in a nice little package and this story shows that even defeating a monstrous cyber-attack like the one in Zero Day won't end the war.
DBower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and look forward to additional books by Mr, Russinovich. The storyline is unfortunately very plausible, a cyber-terrorist attack on the internet, with our dependency on the web. Since the previous review does a good job describing the plot I will not rehash that in this review. In my opinion the storyline is excellent and well developed, the characters are interesting and the relationships between them engaging, and the pace of the story is exhilerating. The only thing that held me up from giving this book 5 stars was there was a bit too much technical stuff and text/instant messaging lingo for my taste. I read the book in a single weekend. I highly recommend this book. If you like fast-paced international espionage books give this one a try, You will not be disappointed.
KevinJoseph on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The idea that the next major terrorist strike on the U.S. will come in the form of a cyber attack is not an implausible one. And Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich holds the right credentials to infuse this doomsday thriller with a believable scientific core. His detailed discussions of rootkits, encryption, and the finer points of virus troubleshooting may not be for everyone, but the quick, staccato pacing of the plot keeps the pages flipping in spite of the scientific content. In fact, my biggest problem with the novel is that the constant flitting between characters and viewpoints renders the narrative too scattered and makes it hard to forge a close connection with the characters. The dialogue and overall writing style is also kind of clunky in places, as is often the case when scientists turn their hand to fiction. That said, Zero Game qualifies as a timely, competent suspense thriller, laced with frightening examples of how a sophisticated computer virus attack perpetrated by a small group of limited resources can cause calamitous results for our airlines, nuclear reactors, hospitals, factories, banks and other fundamental institutions comprising our economy.-Kevin Joseph, author of The Champion Maker
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A series of viruses are unleashed on the Western World causing minor chaos. A fully automated nuclear plant goes down, an auto assembly line is brought to its knees, medical delivery systems are malfunctioning and random computers are self destructing. An act of cyber-terrorism is underway and a small group of computer security specialists are tasked with unraveling the plot.Mark Russinovich is a well known Windows operating system expert and currently is a Technical Fellow at Microsoft. Mr. Russinovich has unveiled countless Microsoft security flaws and has provided computer geeks across the globe with tools to debug and troubleshoot complex problems with the Windows operating system. Why the fanfare and mini-bio? The answer, to point out that he is in a position to understand the current state of computer security and the real threat cyber-terrorism could have on our world. The technical aspects of Zero Day are well explained and only rarely does Russinovich dish out technical jargon that may go over the head of those less tech-savvy readers. The story flows extremely well and reads almost like a work of non-fiction. The only negative I had with the story was the authors fixation on gorgeous female computer geeks. Every female the protagonist encountered was beautiful, thin and athletic. To top it all off, the uber-security expert in the book is the most dashing man on the planet. It is one thing to shatter stereotypes, but I am an engineer by trade and most of my co-workers do not double as runway models on the weekend.A great book with a very scary, real message.
StanSki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who knew that technogeek Mark Russinovich could write such an engaging thriller. Our hero Jeff Aiken, hired by a law firm to find out why their entire system had crashed, even though they had taken all of the standard protective measures, comes across a dastardly plot to crash systems vital to our everyday lives, as well as the economic well-being of the world.Russinovich, with his years of Windows background certainly has the chops to tackle this cyber-terrorism thriller. At first, I was a bit put off by the movement between plot and esoteric computer stuff, but in the end, I realized that he had to educate us as well as scare the crap out of us. We all need to be more aware of the dangers of computing, as well as the obvious benefits. All of you are reading this review on your computers- do you know how dangerous that can be? Especially interesting thought since the author is one of the world's leading experts on the Windows operating system.I sincerely hope that this is not the only book from Russinovich. We deserve to hear more from him.
grumpydan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine that a virus infects all computers in the world which leads to catastrophic chaos. This novel begins with such events as airplane losing control of his navigational abilities. This grabbed my attention, but as the book continues, it slowly waned. Cyber terrorists attack the world by compromising our computers and using our dependency on the Internet to terrorize the world. Nice premise but it didn¿t carry throughout the novel. Although very technical, I found the characters week and the situations predictable.
stevetempo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and educational, this techno thriller is Mr. Russinovich's first novel and it sends home a very eye opening and unsettling message. He has an extensive background in computers and networks and has been an esteemed Technical Fellow at Microsoft. In his story he presents a very vivid picture of the vulnerabilities and devastating outcomes that are possible in a cyber attack on the US and Europe. The story starts out slowly with an investigation into the mysterious failures and anomalies of a number of major computer systems. The technical aspects are well researched and clearly presented and developed for the reader. In the second half the pieces come together and fast paced action to avert the impending cyber attack, becomes more dominant. I found the story and characters interesting, but the best part of this book is the depiction of the vulnerabilities of our way of life in our increasingly computer/network relevant world. Especially recommended for inquiring minds on what can only be one of the major emerging issues of new age.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Russinovich is a Technical Fellow at Microsoft who decided to raise awareness of the dangers of internet sabotage by writing a thriller with that as a theme. As he said in an interview:¿After the virus waves of 2000-2003, it became obvious to me that a relatively minor effort by a few computer-experts could cause destruction that would easily dwarf that of 9/11. It¿s the perfect weapon for terrorist because it has the potential for much wider damage than a physical attack, is virtually anonymous, and is based on technology that¿s readily accessible.¿Zero Day begins with series of catastrophic events related to computer crashes: an airplane¿s loss of control over the Atlantic, scrambling of prescription orders on hospital computers, a nuclear power plant going offline, etc. All of them are characterized not just by an unseen virus, but by the loss of the computer¿s operating system altogether. Jeff Aiken, a security expert formerly with the CIA, is hired by a law firm that was similarly struck to see if Jeff can recover the data before the firm loses all its clients. Jeff had left the CIA after his warnings about 9/11 were ignored, and his fiancé was among those killed in the World Trade Center. Now, he sees an attack with the potential to cause even more damage because of the global interconnectivity of and dependence on the internet. He is aided in his investigation by the beautiful Daryl Haugen, who works in the Division of Counter Cyberterrorism in the Department of Homeland Security. Together they race against time to discover the source of the attack, and to prevent the virus from doing incalculable damage. Discussion: This book is meant to grab your attention by suspense while the author hammers in his agenda, which is to make the world more aware of, and therefore to take more cautions against, the vulnerability of computer systems to terrorist sabotage. After all, as one of the characters reasoned:¿The military of the West depended more and more on computers and the connectivity of the Internet, as did Western civilian governments. In the United States nearly every government function was tied to the Internet. Social Security and the Fed, to name just two, could be accessed from the Internet. The list was almost endless¿¿It¿s a worthwhile concern but I think his execution suffers a bit.He¿s obviously way more comfortable and talented in writing about the tech issues than about interpersonal relationships. Some of the character descriptions and dialogue are banal or even laughable. On the other hand, the tech writing is good even if there might be a little too much of it for a suspense novel. We learn not only about the term ¿zero day¿ (¿software bugs for which no fix exists, that aren¿t widely known, and that malware authors use to spread their viruses¿), but also about worms, virus construction, and basic computer operation. But I would have omitted the sequences of code (for how many readers would this be meaningful?) and long passages of communications in hacker rooms that are typed in difficult-to-read shorthand.Evaluation: I¿m willing to overlook a lot of the shortcomings because of the seriousness of the subject, and because I believe in the importance of the problems outlined by the author. But I sure wish the execution had been better. Ultimately, a more flawless story that includes this information the best way to get the message across to more people.
coffyman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being employed in the IT field for the last 40 years, I found the technology in this book to be well researched and interesting, but the actual plot and characters were less than adequate. At times I almost gave up on this book due to boredom. The author didn't make the story compelling and interesting enough. The main concept was good, but so much more could have been done with it to increase the suspense. I wouldn't recommend this book.
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