Zero Day Review

Last week I reviewed Confession of a Public Speaker, a book written by a former Microsoft employee Scott Berkun. Zero Day is a novel connected with two interesting coincidences. The first one is that it was also written by an employee of Microsoft, although not a former one.

Mark Russinovich is one of the most senior technical people in the company. He’s working on the Sysinternals and is responsible for Windows kernel optimizations and development as well.

So, Mark knows a thing or two about computers. And he wrote a book. And it is about cyber terrorism. And there are sexy female programmers.

The second coincidence is that I finished reading it exactly on September 11, a symbolic date chosen by imaginary terrorists to start a cyber war with the Western world. This realization sent some considerable chills down my spine and I had to check my computer right after I closed the book.

But enough with the coincidences: what is the book like?

It’s a fast-paced thriller, one of those kinds that are hard to put down before the end. It starts with a few seemingly unrelated events and continues with connecting the dots together.

It is shocking when you realize, how close to reality it is, how vulnerable we are and how we rely on technology nowadays.

Also, it points out that we should take the matter of computer security seriously. That is protecting our privacy and caring about data and digital information.

There is an example of a law company that was relying on computers so much, that when their systems broke down for a couple of days, the company went out of business. What would you do, if your systems crashed? Would you be able to keep yourself going?

I liked the book and loved how real it felt. Mark is the right guy with the right experience for the job; he has the knowledge of the systems, security and programming and as a result, the book is a pleasure to read if you are a developer.

On the other hand, I’m a bit concerned how it would be perceived by a non-technical person. Some parts go quite deep into the technical details and I can imagine they could be boring for some. However, those were the parts I enjoyed the most.

What I didn’t like about the book was the 1337 speak in ICQ conversations. I’m not used to this kind of writing and it gave me a hard time to go through. Moreover, it didn’t bring the desired “elite” effect.

In the end, if you are a computer person, read this book. You are definitely going to enjoy it, because it is an interesting, amusing and well-written piece.

And if you don’t know much about computers? The same goes for you as well: read it. You will realize how vulnerable and how dependant on computers we are and maybe you will update your anti-virus or backup your data today.

Go get your own copy of Zero Day at Amazon before it’s gone.

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