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  • And now for a different kind of 0day

    Posted on January 25th, 2011 at 07:31 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Any list of the ten smartest people in the computer biz today would have to include Mark Russinovitch.

    With technical street cred stretching from building Windows uber-utility Sysinternals, to discovery of the Sony Rootkit, to defining the Microsoft Technical Fellow position by example, Mark knows tech like you know your coffee cup.

    Add one more achievement to the list. He’s a hell of a good novelist. At least, I couldn’t stop myself scrolling through the posted excerpt from his first novel, Zero Day. (Warning: it reads like an explicit action-adventure novel.)

    Mark says he started working on the novel eight years ago, and it’s taken this long to get through the book-writing maze.

    From the cover:

    An airliner’s controls abruptly fail mid-flight over the Atlantic. An oil tanker runs aground in Japan when its navigational system suddenly stops dead. Hospitals everywhere have to abandon their computer databases when patients die after being administered incorrect dosages of their medicine. In the Midwest, a nuclear power plant nearly becomes the next Chernobyl when its cooling systems malfunction.

    At first, these random computer failures seem like unrelated events. But Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst who quit in disgust after witnessing the gross errors that led up to 9/11, thinks otherwise. Jeff fears a more serious attack targeting the United States computer infrastructure is already under way. And as other menacing computer malfunctions pop up around the world, some with deadly results, he realizes that there isn’t much time if he hopes to prevent an international catastrophe.

    Arabs in league with Al-Qaeda play the villains. They want to “wreak havoc” on the West “in a very cost-efficient way that’s low risk.” Cyber terrorism fits the description, eh?

    Okay, so it’s long on cliches and penny-pinching Al-Qaedites, but the excerpt moves right along. The lead blurb comes from a certain Mr. Gates. You may have heard of him, too.

    Look for Zero Day on store shelves in March. Or you can pre-order a copy through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or a handful of other bookstores.

    A quick check on the Amazon ordering page reveals that customers who bought Zero Day also bought a copy of the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. Simple coincidence? I think not.

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    Home Forums And now for a different kind of 0day

    This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by

     rc primak 2 years, 1 month ago.

    • Author
    • #57293 Reply

      Da Boss

      Any list of the ten smartest people in the computer biz today would have to include Mark Russinovitch.With technical street cred stretching from build
      [See the full post at: And now for a different kind of 0day]

    • #57294 Reply

      rc primak

      I live in the territory served by Commonwealth Edison and its generating affiliate, Unicom, the most Nuclear of America’s energy companies. My Dad worked for 47 years at Argonne National Laboratory, a leading research center in Nuclear Reactor development.

      Chernobyl was a European Graphite-mediated reactor. In the USA, we only authorized water-mediated reactors. Chernobyl’s design has net-positive reactivity — that is, when all the coolant is drained from the reactor (which is what the Russians stupidly did as a test of failsafe systems) the Nuclear chain-reaction continues to run.

      Contrast this with the water-mediated design, which can lose over 80 percent of its coolant (as happened at Three mile Island), and there is net negative reactivity — that is, the Nuclear chain-reaction stops quickly. there is no China Syndrome in a water-mediated reactor, although steam pressure can be an issue (as happened in Idaho during a test by an Argonne affiliate, in which after nearly all the coolant was drained a steam ejection sent slightly radioactive water and a little radioactive contamination spewing over a few square miles of Idaho desert. No great danger to the Public, and no one needed doses of Iodine.

      Hollywood and the Novelists have a long way to go before they have one-tenth the scientific credentials they need to make such alarming doomsday scenarios part of their works of fiction. At least do some research before blowing the Air Raid sirens.

      On the other hand, the Israelis seem to have done quite a number on the Iranian Nuclear Centrifuges with the Stuxnet Worm. And then there was that little incident in the Baltics a few years back. But Al Qaeda? They can’t even steer an airplane straight!

    • #57295 Reply

      Da Boss


      I’m still skeptical that Stuxnet was written by the Israelis (and/or the Americans) and intended to disrupt the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. It’s possible, but it’s going to take a lot more circumstantial evidence before I’m convinced.

    • #57296 Reply

      rc primak

      Evidence now available has led many mainstream news organizations which are not given to conspiracy theories to lend their credibility to the Stuxnet story as currently widely reported. The exact origin is still in question, but the weight of the evidence is becoming more clear with every passing week. We may never know for sure, but there is a growing concensus among mainstream journalists about this story. One thing is clear — a few ancient switches in Germany were NOT the target.

      Be that as it may, my point is that a Chernobyl-like incident is not possible with American Nuclear power plant designs. This is only a Hollywood fantasy based on total ignorance of the way American Nuclear power plants work. Way too much public hysteria has used these works of pure fiction as grist for the political mill, crippling the American peaceful Nuclear power program. This is main the point on which I am taking issue with the scenario presented in the referenced work of fiction.

    • #57297 Reply

      rc primak

      Just one more note: roger Grimes at InfoWorld Security Watch concurs that the concensus about Stuxnet is that it may have been an American-Israeli collaboration. Just so folks know it’s not just me who sees a growing concensus among journalists about this ongoing story.

    • #57298 Reply


      Y’know, for some reason, when I saw the title, I immediately thought of William Gibson’s books, although this sounds more like a thriller novel than the cyberpunk novels that Gibson writes. I’m mostly sick and tired of seeing thriller novels, because if you’ve read one, you’ve read ’em all. Conspiracy thrillers like ripoffs of The Da Vinci Code are especially bad. However cliche this book seems, though, I do think that cyberterrorism and things like the Stuxnet worm seem to be more efficient ways for terrorists to attack the United States rather than through conventional terrorism (“seem to be” are the operative words here; I don’t know much about cyberterrorism).

      As for William Gibson, I’ve not read his latest book, Zero History, yet, but his track record is fairly good; Neuromancer was possibly one of my favorite novels.

    • #57299 Reply

      Da Boss


      The Wall Street Journal among them.

    • #57300 Reply

      rc primak

      @Charles —

      Thanks for the reading suggestions. This is fascinating stuff, if you don’t take any one author too seriously.

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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