Countdown to Zero Day

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The headline for this review was “Hacking the Ayatollahs”. While a good review, that's a lousy headline. The book is much broader than the headline implies. Yes, it was an targeted attack on Irans Nuclear program. But it was the first visible shots in cyber-warfare. (Everything before this was mostly recon). This did damage and might have killed/hurt people.

Kim Zetter of Wired does a pretty good job of making something that would appeal to geeks, into quite a readable story for a broader audience, and conveying quite a bit of knowledge (bringing people up to speed on techniques used by hackers and security folks alike).

Since my tech knowledge and understanding of the topics runs deep, it's a bit hard to know how a neophyte might feel... But it felt to me like she explains things, and builds up the topic, in a way that even people new to the topic could easily keep up (without it feeling at all like a textbook). But then I sometimes felt myself wanting a bit more depth in techniques at points. And only a few times did I purse my lips and not like how something was described, or did I feel like description was just a little off. (Many terms are overloaded and have multiple meanings, and sometimes the more obscure was used, without explaining the alternatives). For a sometimes know-it-all, that's actually pretty high praise.

The book feels a little redundant in parts, and like it could be tightened up a bit. But all criticisms aside, if you would like something that feels like a really good documentary on the digital battleground (specifically want went into a series of attacks on Iran), with some past, a lot of present, and with a little bit of imagination, the future of cyber warfare, I found it quite worth my time.

Though, while governments aren't putting this kind of focus on individuals... If you don't walk away feeling like your data is naked, then you weren't paying attention. And my imagination keeps running towards how big a deal info-security will be in future battlegrounds. For declared wars, terrorism, or vendettas that we're not even privy to.


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Written 2014.12.12