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Zero Day (Jeff Aiken #1)

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  4,508 Ratings  ·  465 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published March 2011)
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Aug 20, 2011 Hinch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was eager to read Zero Day following an enthusiastic recommendation from Steve Gibson of the Security Now podcast. The author, Mark Russinovich, is employed as a senior technical resource at Microsoft, is recognised as an expert in the Windows operating system, and was cofounder of Wininternls, a small company that released a suite of highly respected low-level administration and debugging tools.

The premise of the book is both sound and scary. A small terrorist group coordinates the developmen
Paul Owens
Dec 09, 2012 Paul Owens rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Avoid like an .exe found on a pop-up.

'Zero Day' is a thriller so by-the-numbers that if you had told me that Mark Russinovich had written a computer program that had produced it I would be neither surprised or impressed such is the quality of the finished product. I read the early chapters in shock that it had been published. After the shock wore off I ploughed on dead-eyed in a manner that now in retrospect resembles nothing more than acute self-harm.

'Zero Day' opens in the style of 'World Wa
Sep 30, 2011 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little disappointed. I've heard a lot of hype about this book, but it had some issues. I found the flow awkward and some of the characters seemed silted. Is the premise believable? Yeah. Did the solution make sense? Not really sure. [return][return]The technology descriptions also seemed out of place and didn't flow well. I'm not sure they would have done much for someone who didn't know the lingo, and those who did would find some of the descriptions strange and over-simplistic.[return][retur ...more
Ricky Penick
Jan 26, 2013 Ricky Penick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second of the technology themed first novels that I listened to this month. Russinovich is a fairly well known programmer at Microsoft, which is to say that he is very well known in the tech community but not so much in the "real" world. This book has been raved about among techies and was reputed to be "timely". I feel bad for the guy. Really. However, you really should read an actual novel before you decide to write one. I don't mean a graphic novel or something by Elmore Leonard, ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Shmarya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
A singularly bad novel. The writing is unbearable. The plot is predictable and unoriginal. The entire book is technically inaccurate. Russinovich is a respected expert in the field of windows operating system internals, but he clearly has no real idea about real malware, exploitation and the underground. It seems that his perspective is completely skewed, and he attempts to write with technical confidence about areas which are clearly outside his field of expertise. I honestly believe that any h ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2013 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is molasses-slow and suffers from strange style choices, like the atrociously-spelled chat logs. The characters are somewhat appealing in their generic nature, but are still Mary Sues and Gary Stus. The novel truly suffers from the insertion of Russinovich's racist and sexist views into the story. Perhaps the worst quote is one page 255, which reads,

"In this time of exhibitionist tattoos and body piercing, with the supposed equality of the sexes, it seemed to Jeff that many women were
This debut technothriller by one of Microsoft's technical gurus features al-Qaeda, cyber-terrorism on a global scale, a network security hero who lost his lady in 9/11 (which, he happened to predict while working for the CIA, only to be ignored), and not one, but two other exceedingly attractive female IT people. What else does one need to know? While the author posits some fairly evocative set pieces illustrating how the world's economy can be brought to a standstill by a few relatively clever ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to this book, and so was very disappointed when I finally got to it.

I'm going to put most of this in a spoiler tag just for those who haven't read it.. but if you haven't, then you'll soon see the problems the book has on your own.. stilted text, wooden characters, improbable and downright ridiculous plot points, rushed ending and some of the worst dialog between characters I have ever seen in a book.

(view spoiler)
Oct 20, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being in the IT field, I was excited to read this book, both for the subject matter and considering the Russinovich’s accomplished experience in the field. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good thriller. Unfortunately, maybe my IT background was also what made it somewhat disappointing to me, with certain plot details and even writing styles being a bit annoying to me.

One incredibly irritating example so divorced from reality that cropped up again and again was how everyone—EVERYONE—seems to be so sore
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Make no mistake, we are at war and we are losing.’

If you have ever experienced the effects of a computer virus, Trojan horse or other attack on your computer, you know what it’s like when your computer doesn’t respond as it should. And you know, too, the challenge of fixing the problems, or having someone fix them for you. It’s not usually a matter of life or death though, is it?

But imagine what would happen if a whole lot of computers, controlling critical or important functions around the wor
aPriL does feral sometimes
I picked this one up because I listen to a podcast by Steve Gibson called 'Security Now'. He has recommended other books which have been excellent. However, this was a big disappointment. It sucked. The sad thing is it really shouldn't have. The plot was terrific. Terrorists decide to take down the Western World via the computers which now control every aspect of business from customer records to payroll to billing to factory machine control. Airplanes are flown by computers, and nuclear reactor ...more
John Straffin
Jan 08, 2013 John Straffin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
This has to have been the most painful book I have ever finished listening to. Filled with pointless detail, racial stereotyping, and gratuitous smut, the book is bad enough, but the audio-book makes it all worse by not accounting for the change in media. The phrase "spelled 'Superphreak' instead of 'Superfreak'" makes perfect sense when seen. When read aloud, not so much. When reading an e-mail represented in the book, must the reader *really* spell out every bit of the line "From: Xhugo1101 &l ...more
Val Pearson
Jan 29, 2011 Val Pearson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first though on this book was "If I get the opportunity to push the sale of any book, this is the book I would choose, for the simple fact that we need to be educated in cyber terrorism." A thought provoking thriller, Zero Day is by far one of the most exciting yet terrifying books I have ever read. In our generation, there is no where you can look that is not controlled by computers in some capacity. Just think about it for a minute. Online banking, your power at home, the airplane that you ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Paul rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the more annoying and frustrating books have read.

The author is an experienced IT professional painting a picture of some of the pitfalls of relying to much on modern technology. Sounds basic premise. And in other hands would have been a thought provoking and well written book.

However he writes with a heavy hand with scenarios over the top and generic characters that seem stolen from a movie of the week.

If he had turned down some of the scenarios he laid out would have helped but sound
Alex Railean
I agree with all the criticism of the other readers and I support those who liked the book.

My expectations were not met, but given that this is Mark's first novel - I would say the start isn't that bad.

Now, I would like to highlight a few things that other readers did not:

- In Russian, the short version of "Vladimir" is "Vova", rather than "Vlad" (which corresponds to "Vladislav"), the author didn't get this part right.

- Mark makes a reference to "kuyrdak" - I honestly had no clue such a thing e
Jul 13, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: steve gibson (security now)
(3.0) Bonus points for including assembly language in a novel

Entertaining and I like the premise for this tech thriller. I didn't like the fact that every woman in the novel is ogled by every man she meets/works with. It was a bit off-putting and fairly unrealistic. His 'intimate' scenes were a little unintentionally funny as well...I think a lot had to do with word choice. Biggest criticism though is telling not showing. Several times he'd begin a dialog and then summarize the rest of the conve
Krishna Kumar
May 18, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I received a copy of this from a GoodReads giveaway, and I was really excited to get it, since I do like a good technothriller, and the initial description seemed promising.

The general plot idea is that there is this virus (maybe one, maybe more--it's a very sneaky virus!) wreaking havoc on computer systems in the U.S. The opening chapters describe various catastrophes due to fully automated systems shutting down and locking out human users--a nuclear power plant's cooling system suddenly goes
*Rating is 3.5*

Mark Russinovich works at Microsoft in one of the senior-most technical positions. Considering the background of the author, the premise of Zero Day becomes even more compelling.

Zero Day has a thrilling start. Several seemingly unrelated incidents take place all over the world, all involving computer failures. The controls of a British Airways flight fails. So do the computers in a highly reputed firm based in NYC. A glitch in the computer databases in various hospitals causes m
May 02, 2014 Martti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Russinovich is the Windows Internals guy. He knows the Windows side of the IT-world well and since Windows is the main target of malware, he also can get away with an impressive deep dive into the world of Rootkits, Worms and Trojans.

But as his company Winternals was aqcuired by Microsoft in 2006 and he became an executive in the giant firm, one cannot help but also detect this side of him in the book. I for example cannot take seriously a cybersecurity expert that doesn't mention Linux in
Apr 03, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is an easy read for anyone who has ever used a computer connected to the internet. The book is even more interesting and compelling if you have ever installed an anti-virus product on a PC. So, there you go; this book will be a good read for almost anyone who picks it up.

The plot is all to believable. A group is creating a storm of worms and viruses to invade the computer systems that control our banking, airlines, power generation – you know, every part of our life. This threat as bee

Kevin O'Brien
Mark Russinovich is the developer of the Sysinternals suite, and moved to Microsoft when his company was purchased by the Redmond Behemoth. And this matters because this is a techno-thriller where accuracy matters, at least to those of us who understand how this works. Hollywood thinks you can just type "Override' on any green monochrome terminal and get instant access to any computer system. But Mark knows how things actually work, and it shows in this book. Everything in it is plausible and be ...more
May 16, 2011 Ivan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nice idea and Mark definitely knows his security (he should, he's one of the foremost experts on MS Windows), but I think he generally sort of blew this one. The story is intriguing, but it's somewhat predictable and it's full of stereotypes and cliches. The hackers are Russian, cynical and ready to do anything for money. The Arab terrorists are the ones behind the attacks and they want to kill us all, because they hate our freedom. If you are into this kind of stuff you can just watch conservat ...more
Brent Stansfield
The premise is good: Terrorists are planning and quietly executing a computer attack against the West using stealthy, time-activated viruses hidden by cleverly-written rootkits. Can the good guys prevent a cataclysmic day when all the computers die simultaneously?

The characters are stale: Must the good guy be handsome and prescient and clever and kind and sexy and stylish? Must every woman be sexy and young and horny and wily and well-dressed and smart? Must the bad guys be smarmy and zealous an
Oct 16, 2014 Pkelsay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a painful read for me, up to 42%, where I stopped. The characters are flat; the women are objectified by the author, with a few weak attempts at random characterization (hot government computer lady secretly hates to see kids in pain, really? So she's a person with normal human feelings? That totally makes me empathize with her so much! Seriously! No, really. No.)

It fails the Bechdel test, shocker. And it includes gems like "hackers, as code writers were generally called". I would actu
Tom Tresansky
Feb 19, 2013 Tom Tresansky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the worst books I've ever read. I obviously wasn't expecting great literature when I picked this up, but this was miles away from being even a decent thriller. There wasn't even any interesting discussion of computer security involved - which was the main reason I was interested, considering the author's credentials - it was all very high level and vague, clearly toned down to broaden the appeal. Characters were entirely black or white; every female was a beautiful, oversexed god ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Andyi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nerdy-audiobooks
How much technobabble and business speak do you like in your international political drama stories? Who loves middle aged IT-type nerds with business acumen and who actually talk? I DO!

This was one I picked up in Audiobook, which is a good thing because I probably would have put the print version down. Techspeak ranged from explaining very simple concepts to glossing over more esoteric concepts. Unfortunately it's the steps getting TO those esoteric concepts that are the focus for the story. Ch
Scott Hopper
Although the story is compelling and the subject matter is of great personal interest to me, I felt the narrative and character depth were quite amateurishly developed throughout the book. This is simply not a piece of literary genius by any standard. Many of the transitions and several of the plot twists were awkward and seemed forced. I simply would not recommend this book and I will not be reading the sequel, Trojan Horse. I had hoped to discover a great new series, unfortunately, not the cas ...more
Nathan Simpson
Standard thriller fare. The author has a respectable amount of computer knowledge under his belt, but the overall story is sort of implausible and it irks me that all of his well-educated, highly-competent computer geeks relapse into 12-year-old "zomg i r unble 2 spl on IM." Every decent programmer I know manages to use full sentences when instant messaging, generally with better punctuation and grammar than the population at large.

I found myself skimming by the end of the first third, and the s
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Mark Russinovich is a Technical Fellow in Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud operating system group. Russinovich is a widely recognized expert in Windows operating system internals as well as operating system architecture and design.

Russinovich joined Microsoft when Microsoft acquired Winternals software, the company he cofounded in 1996 and where he worked as Chief Software Architect. He is also c
More about Mark Russinovich...

Other Books in the Series

Jeff Aiken (3 books)
  • Trojan Horse  (Jeff Aiken #2)
  • Rogue Code  (Jeff Aiken #3)

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