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Zero Day: A Novel

Zero Day: A Novel

Written by Mark Russinovich

Narrated by Johnny Heller


Zero Day: A Novel

Written by Mark Russinovich

Narrated by Johnny Heller

ratings:
3.5/5 (20 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9781427231833
Format:
Audiobook

Description

An airliner's controls abruptly fail mid-flight over the Atlantic. An oil tanker runs aground in Japan when its navigational system suddenly stops dead. Hospitals everywhere have to abandon their computer databases when patients die after being administered incorrect dosages of their medicine. In the Midwest, a nuclear power plant nearly becomes the next Chernobyl when its cooling systems malfunction.

At first, these random computer failures seem like unrelated events. But Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst who quit in disgust after witnessing the gross errors that led up to 9/11, thinks otherwise. Jeff fears a more serious attack targeting the United States computer infrastructure is already under way. And as other menacing computer malfunctions pop up around the world, some with deadly results, he realizes that there isn't much time if he hopes to prevent an international catastrophe.

Written by a global authority on cyber security, Zero Day presents a chilling "what if" scenario that, in a world completely reliant on technology, is more than possible today—it's a cataclysmic disaster just waiting to happen.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9781427231833
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

MARK RUSSINOVICH works at Microsoft as a Technical Fellow, Microsoft’s senior-most technical position. A cofounder of Winternals, he joined Microsoft when the company was acquired in 2006. He is author of the novels Zero Day and Trojan Horse, the popular Sysinternals tools, coauthor of the Windows Internals book series, a contributing editor for TechNet Magazine, and a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro Magazine. He lives in Washington State.


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What people think about Zero Day

3.5
20 ratings / 24 Reviews
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Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    I found this an enjoyable enough read. The plot was interesting and the details around the computer security issues well explained and flowed well. Character interactions and development often felt wooden and forced throughout the book.
  • (4/5)
    Good read. Really liked the technical aspects, and how they were brought out.
  • (4/5)
    enjoyed the story about cybersecurity just as I've enjoyed the utilities from the author for managing windows tasks.
  • (4/5)
    Very entertaining and sobering. The scope of the cyber-attack in the novel is unbelievably large -- but not impossible.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed this thriller mainly because I am interested in the cyber-security topic. As a novel, I have to say the amateurish hand is clearly visible, despite the overall fun of the ride. The main charachters behave like really bad actors in a B-movie. There are far too many unnecessary comments about how sexy and handsome everyone is. The same idiotic, male-chovinistic comments that you can find in the old Clive Cussler, but I was hoping for something a little better from this book. I also had some issues with the language - i.e. I'm not sure that repeating the expression "all but" twice per page is a sign of "good English" (for example, "it was all but destroyed"; "they were all but secure").

    Some problems I had with the plot (spoiler alert):

    1) at page 238 Jeff tells Daryl that there could be a connection between the virus and the murders. Daryl is extremely surprised, and "she looked at him as if he'd just slapped her". She is a fairly high-ranking DHS official, and she is supposed to manage various teams of cyber experts. How come all of a sudden she is so incredibly dumb?? The fact that she hadnt connected the dots doesnt make any sense. Editing!

    2) at page 253, with Carlton having called him in a sudden rush, and flying to Paris in a panicked rush, Fajer "had not expected this, not now. He could not imagine what had roused this man's suspicion". What? After at page 229 Carlton is said to have already planted a copy of Daryl's latest report in Fort Dupont Park? And even if Fajer hadnt had the time to read it yet... really? This mastermind guy, being so stupid as to not expect someting like this??

    The last part of the book is - I have to say - a real disaster, rushed and weak, but then it needed some final climax of some sort I guess. No clever or ingenious solution is found. No original twist.

    Finally - does the author still work for Microsoft? Because if he does, he is not doing a great service to his company: someone who is not in the IT field, like me, finds out from the book that the concept of "Zero Day" involves vulnerabilities even in Microsoft products that can not be fixed by any patch, therefore leaving the system open to any virus. Thanks a lot for letting us know Mark!! I'll just get an i-pad.

    In brief, nothing more than good fun, a little new information, and some not very realistic insight in the world of hackers.
  • (3/5)
    Better than most novels written with computer security as the thematic backdrop, Russinovich proves that coders can in fact turn a decent English phrase. The IT audience will appreciate the books technical accuracy and not enjoy the lolz that usually accompany Hollywood and author's attempts to portray what they *think* goes on inside technology.

    My one reservation is that I found the plotting a little weak and not as tight as, say, a Clancy or Ludlum would do with the same material. Plot lines that seem to be developing nicely are prematurely concluded without tension or impact on the principle characters, and I found the rush to a final climax decidedly predictable. No more than you would expect from a decent airport lounge novel.

    However, this was Russinovich's first novel, and there are (or will be soon) another two that follow the same characters but delve into different areas of security. I'll certainly be interested to check these out - Zero Day is a promising start for a new author, and I can well expect the level of writing craft in later books to be on the up and up.
  • (3/5)


    The icq conversation style is utterly retarded but if you can look past those few pages it's a ok story.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    A little disappointed. I've heard a lot of hype about this book, but it had some issues. I found the flow awkward and some of the characters seemed silted. Is the premise believable? Yeah. Did the solution make sense? Not really sure. The technology descriptions also seemed out of place and didn't flow well. I'm not sure they would have done much for someone who didn't know the lingo, and those who did would find some of the descriptions strange and over-simplistic.And the irc/im talks gave me a headache. I'm a regular on several irc channels and how people communicate on there is quite varied. However, I've never seen anything approaching what this book has. The dialog in the book is all in abbreviated painful style regardless of what character is typing. I've never seen anyone chat like that outside of cruddy movies and tv shows. (In a related note I wouldn't recommend using the word cum for come in a chat channel.....just don't. The fact so many different characters used that abbreviation...just weird.)Not a bad read, but not a great one either. Maybe the second book by this author will be better.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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!
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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!
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.