Monday, 11 July 2011

Counting From Zero - Alan B Johnston

Synopsis - Can a security expert save the Internet from a catastrophic zero day cyber attack by a network of zombie computers, known as a botnet? At what cost?  Security professionals continually fight to contain newly unleashed cyber attacks, known as ‘zero day' attacks, only to have new attacks launched. Millions of computers have already succumbed, and, without their owner’s knowledge, have become slave computers - remotely controlled ‘zombies’. Under the control of organized crime and backed by foreign governments, these computers are morphing into collections known in the industry as botnets, short for robot networks. Internet security expert Mick O’Malley is the only one who recognizes the growing threat of the ultimate zero day attack on the Internet from a massive botnet, and his unique hacker skills and network of colleagues enable him to fight back. More cyber prep than cyber punk, Mick uses real-life tools and techniques to encrypt all his communications, and uses these skills to break the encryption used by the botnet. Mick uses encryption on a personal level, too, having multiple passports and multiple names and identities. While crisscrossing the globe in the air, on land, and at sea investigating the threat, Mick becomes the target of attacks on his reputation, his identity, and ultimately his life. Along the way, Mick meets Kateryna Petrescu, a beautiful Romanian firewall expert. Mick’s attraction to Kateryna develops as they work closely together and share the excitement and danger. Why is the government following Mick and trying to intercept his communications? Can he stop the zero day attack before it is unleashed? What will be the cost to Mick for his single mindedness? (Taken from Goodreads)

Review - I won this e-book from LibraryThing Members Giveaways.  Alan B Johnston is an IT expert in VoIP and security and holds a degree in electrical engineering.  He has written non fiction IT technical books.  Born in Australia, Alan moved to the USA as a youngster.

There were quite a lot of grammatical errors in the book which were a little annoying, the copy was not proof read properly before publication.  This was a small annoyance but did not detract too much from the story itself.

I enjoyed the story and I liked the concept.  Although peppered with a lot of technical information it was educational.  I liked the way the author interspersed the forum blog posts between the story chapters.  The book was a little slow to get off the ground in the beginning but the pace did increase towards the end.  I also liked the historical snippets of information which were included in the story.

The author obviously knows his IT inside out but I feel the book would go over the heads of most readers.  I think the book is targetted towards and most suited to a specific audience, those with an interest in IT as a career or high level hobby.  3*   

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