Trojan Horse: A Jeff Aiken Novel, Book 2 (Audiobook)

“Trojan Horse” is the second book in the Jeff Aiken series written by authors Mark Russinovich and Kevin Mitnick; the second of actual hacker fame.  The first book in the series was “Zero Day”, which I enjoyed very much, and there is a third book already out in audiobook format which I have not listened too, yet.  I felt this book from a story perspective was a bit weaker than the first, but it does have some good action, intrigue and technology that keeps it following and the reader engrossed.  If you like a well-written technology thrillers (techno thrillers) this book may be one to pick up.  If you like technology and have been involved in the information security field, you may enjoy it more than those who are not.  With that said, I believe that there were quite a few Hollywood moments written in for dramatic effect where the reader simply need to suspend belief and move on.  Like with forensic drama shows on TV, it is not as easy to hack into a system, decrypt secure files, etc. as is portrayed in the book. Just remember this book is not a primer or educational piece on hacking, but instead a piece of fiction to be enjoyed.

The book picks up two years after the events unfolded in Zero Hour (book 1).  Our hero and information security expert, Jeff Aiken, is now a successful and well respected individual in the security community.  He also continues to work with Daryl who he is in a relationship with.  One day it is discovered that a secure document sent via a secure digital means had been altered somewhere between the sender and the person receiving it.  Making changes to a Word document may seem irrelevant or not all interesting unless one understands how documents are secured and validated using digital hashes providing assurance that the file has not been altered.  Today’s financial, corporate, and government industries depend on these file protections controls to ensure money transfers, etc.  What if someone could, in transit, change the deposit amount or reroute it completely to a different account?  This would cause chaos in our digital world, nothing could be trusted to be accurate.  This newly uncovered piece of malware can make changes to files and documents, without modifying the digital hash (watermark) or signature while also not leaving any tracks of the infection on the computer; fileless malware.  This is where Jeff and team are brought in to root out the creators and the intentions of this nasty virus.

Again, if you understand the technology covered in the book, you will find it more interesting than if you did not.  However, I think the book can be read and understood as simply a technology spy thriller and most of the technical details could be ignored and you will still get the jest of the story, as with a Clancy novel.  The book takes us from one infected customer around the world to many other location to hunt down the virus’ creator so we can once again put our trust in document security.  The book continues to unravel and we discover more and more the purpose of this virus.

Note for younger readers, this book is rather gritty and at time quite dark and graphically violent.  Again, not a surprise for a techno-thriller.  I will say that there points that vulgar language was used heavily and some subject matter involving sex or sexual content is also contained within.

Johnny Heller has narrated over three-hundred and fifty other books on Audible at the time of this review, so he is no new-comer to narration.  I know other reviewers have said they did not like his narration of this book, but I’m in with a larger majority that did.  I thought his reading speed and voicing of the characters solid.  I did notice a few potential mispronounced words, but this was not something that ruined the book for me.  The audio was also professionally produced, coming from a known publisher, and lacked any noticeable artifacts.

In summary, if you liked Zero Day or if you are one who enjoys a delve into techno thrillers, Trojan Horse if well worth the listen.

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