Monday, November 3, 2014

20 Books: Zero Day (2011) and Trojan Horse (2012), Mark Russinovich

This is part of a sub-series of postings based on the "20 Books Cybersecurity Professionals Should Read Now".

This time we have another pair of novels, Zero Day (2011) and Trojan Horse (2012) by Mark Russinovich.  Russinovich cofounded Winternals, and is now a Technical Fellow at Microsoft.  These techno thrillers star Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst.  These are more cerebral thrillers, then action thrillers.  Aiken is not an action hero.

But these works are very grounded in real world security issues, as well as political matters.

The main character is Jeff Aiken, who we meet in the first work.  He is a cybersecurity expert.  He used to work for the CIA, but left after he had submitted a report that predicted 9/11 that his boss, unknown to him, squashed the report.  He warned his fiance to stay away from the World Trade Center that day, but she went with a friend and was killed.  He has since formed his own consulting firm, working for both private and government groups.  We also meet a fellow expert, Daryl Haugen, who is working for the NSA in the first work, and leaves the NSA to join him in his firm at the end of that work.

Zero Day is built around the idea of a "zero day exploit", an unknown exploit that is taken advantage of before companies can get a patch out.  Here, Muslim jihadist are working to take advantage of such exploits in code put together by various hackers, and distributed by third parties who don't know what they are really doing.  They hope to cause a massive collapse of Western systems, but Aiken is alerted to the issue when he is brought in to fix a system that was affected by the infected systems too soon.  Aiken and Haugen are quickly on the trail, in hopes of stopping things before they get out of hand.

Trojan Horse also makes use of computer exploits, but also gets into state-supported hacking, when nation-states make use of hacking against other nations for their advantage.  The Stuxnet virus is claimed to be such a real world example of this.  Here, we have Iran working to build a nuclear weapon, with China using their military hackers to help them out, but working to keep that hidden.  Again, Aiken and Haugen are asked to look at an unusual computer incident, which soon puts them on the trail of the hackers.

Since these 2 novels came out, there is now a short story available on the Kindle, "Operation Desolation" and a new novel, Rogue Code, has just come out this past month.  Am hoping when Rogue Code is released in paperback, they include the short story.  (seen this done with similar works by other authors).

Check out these works.  I like techno-thrillers, and I found these to be fairly well grounded in today's world, both technically and politically.

No comments:

Post a Comment