“Zero Day” is an action-packed technology thriller closely resembling potential events of today’s potential cyber terrorism; it also does not fail to entertain and engage the reader. The book is written by Mark Russinovich and narrated by Johnny Heller. With a society that is now almost one-hundred percent dependent on technology and digital communications. You may not think your day-to-day activities are digitally focused, but think of all the banking, shopping, research, and other events requiring the use of digital data. What would happen if all of this was disrupted by a piece of malware developed and distributed by a rogue group of people; or even a rogue nation state.
This book show one the importance and concerns around digital terrorism and how it can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of your lives while also bringing fear to the population. For example, what if a virus was able to prevent pilots from flying an aircraft, or taking full control making it go where they want? What if train engineers were unable to stop trains from running wild on the crowed rails. What if trucking and shipping, our supply chains, were disrupted for any length of time, society would quickly be impacted. Lastly, what if the lifesaving machines in every hospital was reprogrammed to kill instead of heal, all of this would have a global impact. Zero Day helps the reader understand all of these concerns and how difficult it actually is to track down and remediate something so widely deployed. When a piece of malware is installed over time, and then activated all at once, tracking it down becomes difficult.
This is where our main character and information security hero, Jeff Aiken, comes into the story. It is his role to locate, investigate, and attempt to pinpoint the people who developed it and their intended purpose. Again, all of these are very hard things to accomplish in real life, yet this book at times makes these difficult tasks appear simple. If you are in the computer security field, you will notice a few scenes where Hollywood has been used to make the tasks seem exciting and action packed, whereas in real lift they would not. Similar to the author’s second book in the series (Trojan Horse), one needs to remember this is a piece of action fiction and not to be used as an information security primer or educational text. It is intended to be something to be enjoyed as entertainment.
You do not need to have a great deal of technical or security knowledge to enjoy this book, but having this allows one to enjoy it even more. I did want to say that there is a sexual scene in the beginning of the book that could have been removed without impacting any part of the story. It just seemed odd in this type of story, and more used to hook the reader by using sex. There are also chapters that contain a good amount of vulgar language and also discussions of sex or sexual content. The book contains some graphic scenes of violence that may make the book overall unacceptable for younger readers.
The book’s narration is done by Johnny Heller who has narrated the other two books in the Aiken series. I found the narration of this book average compared to other books I have listened too in audio format; it was not excellent but it was better than others. Mr. Heller has narrated hundreds of other books on Audible which have received numerous four and five star ratings. For those who have said they do not like his reading style in this book, it may partially be the material he is given in the book itself. There are a few sections in the book where source code is described which can become tedious to those who may not know what is bring described. These items are much easier to understand in written and not audio format.
I would recommend this book to others that like the technothriller genre or are involved in the information security industry. It is a great piece of action fiction and also gives one a better understanding of what events like those taking place in the book can do to our digital dependency.