Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon” as Want to Read:
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  4,573 ratings  ·  498 reviews
Top cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter tells the story behind the virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and shows how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare—one in which a digital attack can have the same destructive capability as a megaton bomb.
In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency noticed that centrifuges at an Iran
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Crown (first published June 3rd 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Countdown to Zero Day, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Magda It should be fine. There's some mentioning of sensitive content as far as I can remember (assassinations) but it mostly focuses on the exploit itself,…moreIt should be fine. There's some mentioning of sensitive content as far as I can remember (assassinations) but it mostly focuses on the exploit itself, how it had been detected, and its repercussions.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,573 ratings  ·  498 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
Christopher Anderson
Pretty good for the first 2/3 of the book. Especially interesting if you work in technology. What hurt the book was the last 1/3 of it - in which the author essentially repeated a few things page after page. It was pointless. I have a flaw that makes it very difficult for me NOT to finish a book, and I paid the price on this one.
Dennis Murphy
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began reading Countdown to Zero Day thinking it would be a more detailed exploration of the Stuxnet attack against the Iranian uranium enrichment program. That program is a key part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program as it enables Iran to produce bomb grade uranium. Stuxnet was(is) a worm that sought out target computers controlling the Iranian centrifuges and then assumed control of the centrifuges, interfering with the production of uranium hexafluoride gas and causing the destruction of the ...more
Amar Pai
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, if I were rating the book strictly on its own merits it would only be 3 stars, because it feels like a magazine length article stretched to book form. But 4 stars is lifetime achievement award, because Zetter has been the best mainstream reporter working on this story (and the security beat in general) for a while now. She really gets the details right, and I'm glad a reporter of her caliber tackled this story. I STILL years later am thinking about Stuxnet. It was, and is, an absolutel ...more
Will Semin
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a SOFTWARE engineer of any level, this book has a lot of great ideas to make your code more readable and maintainable. I wish I had DSICOVERED it earlier.
Alex Givant
Excellent story about Iran's nuclear project and how USA/Israel sabotaged it by all means (including cyber- and physical-attacks on people involved with the program).
Andrew Obrigewitsch
NSA Agent Num 1: So you remember that really bad idea for a weapon that nearly destroyed the planet that we came up with in the 1940s?
NSA Agent Num 2: Yeah, what about it?
NSA Agent Num 1: I have an idea just as bad as that one.
NSA Agent Num 2: Wow, what is it, we better get everyone we can on something that wonderful.
NSA Agent Num 1: We should create a virus that will take control of systems in a facility in another country and destroy them, not only will this show hackers all around the worl
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best non fiction book of 2014. The entire story of this digital weapon and the aftermath of if it, including the new questions raised going forward was a really compelling tell. By making it read like a really intense mystery narrative it transcended the typically dry fact based story that some books about digital technology find themselves in. One part of me while reading wished that the outcome hadnt already been known and that the US could have been successful in keeping Stuxnet underwraps wh ...more
Cliff Mccollum
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first 4/5's of the book - in which the real story of Stuxnet is told. The last 1/5 is a somewhat tedious timeline of events without much narrative to support it; while interesting, it wasn't nearly as good as the rest of the book. Still, I can easily recommend this if you are interested at all in Cyber-warfare, computer viruses, or the curious relationship between the US and Iran in the first decade of the 21st century.
Executive Summary: A bit longer than I'd have liked, going deeper into history on some things than I was interested in, but the tech stuff was pretty fascinating. 3.5 stars.

Audiobook: For fiction I always want a memorable narrator, but for nonfiction someone forgettable is best. I want the story to speak for itself. I thought Joe Ochman fit the bill nicely for me.

Full Review
I'm always fascinated by computer history, and the story behind Stuxnet is both fascinating and terrifying. Here we are
Doug Cornelius
We were in a cyber war with Iran. Kim Zetter unravels the story of Stuxnet, the US computer attack on Iran's nuclear program in Countdown to Zero Day.

A few months ago, I read A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat urging a US military attack on Iran. That book highlighted how Iran had been building a nuclear program for several years. That included several years of centrifuges spinning to extract enriched uranium.

It has taken so long to extract uranium because, according to Zetter,
Nick Black
not a great achievement in research or writing or insight or anything, but a pretty competent assembly of timelines and people. feels like it could have been a much more compelling 35-page michael lewis vanity fair article.
(3.5) Started off well (could've been 4 or 4.5), following the researchers uncovering stuxnet's secrets, then covered a lot of side topics and eventually sort of retold the whole story chronologically with repetition and speculation

Lots of research went into this (resulting in some excellent footnotes--to the point that many of them should've just been included in the main text). I enjoyed the investigative aspect, following VirusBlokAda, Symantec, Kaspersky as they teased apart how the worm spr
Matt Neely
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read on Stuxnet and digital weapons/cyber war. The author did a great job writing a book that is appealing and understandable to non-technical readers while still giving enough details to be of value to someone with in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity. If you want to learn more about these topics this book is a great starting point.
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Top grade cyber thriller made all the more fascinating by being real. I'm not a techie at all but Zetter has a real gift of turning often complicated and detailed machine/code babble, into something easy and palatable for a reader like myself.

It really is a great story and we get to see the full scope from its beginnings, inception, it's destructive phase and the aftermath. One of the things that was so awesome was the fact that this computer virus actually caused things to physically destroy th
Drill-sergeant Brown
The first shot on the bow of any international conflict will probably be some kind of sophisticated cyber attack. This book presents an egaging account of the goings on in the dark web and the dedication of tireless 'security researchers' who spend hundreds of hours making sense of these attacks.
Kit Pang
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A world that I never knew about. Although, the writing is packed with computer/technology terms in the beginning, this book is worth it.

Read on to see where our society is heading...
Dale Lehman
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the first and so far only digital weapon to be used. Stuxnet played havoc with centrifuges used by Iran to refine uranium for its nuclear program, a program many feared was intended to produce nuclear weapons. The story is far more complex and convoluted than you may have read in the news, and it raises profound questions about government policy and the future of warfare. Kim Zetter, Wired's award-winning journalism, takes us down the rabbit hole to explore what is known--an ...more
Sandro Eich
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Thankfully I have found a little non-fiction gem in this book. Recently I have been trying to revitalise my interest for non-fiction books which started out quite badly with another book I dnf'ed. This book, however, read like a crime novel, based on journalistic expertise. At times, I struggled with the abbreviations the author used (one of which is "ISIS" standing for Institute for Science and International Safety, a quite unfortunate choice of abbreviation in hindsight). However, as a whole, ...more
Joe Lapp
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hackers
It was mind-blowing to learn of the malware ecosystems spanning governments and private industry. This book does an excellent job of explaining the discovery and workings of STUXNET and related government digital weapons. It also thoroughly explains the political circumstances and reasons governments give for using the weapons. The author is extremely careful with the nuances of truth and divides the information into chapter content and lengthy footnotes. I struggled to pay attention through the ...more
Frank Cervarich
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this. Zetter tells the story of Stuxnet as an international who done it, revealing interesting moral questions and problems over the course of the book. At times it is easy to get lost in all the acronyms and technical jargon, but she does a nice job of stringing readers along for a big payoff.
Interesting and well written, although I felt the story could have been told in about half its pages, sometimes it felt very repetitive and went too far away from the actual topic.
I also would have preferred to learn more about the actual code an technical details instead of US American political affairs.
Dayton Pruet
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I cannot fault the narrator for this, but there is one chapter/section where IAEA is said a bunch and it can be annoying. If you want more audio on this topics in this book, check out the podcasts Malicious Life and Darknet Diaries.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2019
I didn't pay close attention to the news when this was actually happening, as I didn't grasp the impacts it truly had or the future impacts possible as a result of this Pandora's Box being opened. Technical at times, which makes it dry at times, but accessible for an educated reader with any background.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting material, kind of dry writing
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly accessible and really interesting insight into malware and how computer security issues can be exploited.
Toufic Osseiran
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling book about cyber warfare that reads like a detective horror story and accentuates how vulnerable all the systems that we take for granted are? Yes please!
Rayfes Mondal
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heavily researched and footnoted story about how the US and Israel created a virus to slow down Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Fascinating how it all played out. Very detailed coverage over 400 pages which closes with a discussion about the danger of this type of weapon.
Dmytro Shteflyuk
One scary book filled with technical details of the Stuxnet malware and political landscape leading to its development. Was a very interesting read.
Cid Medeiros
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of history on malicious code, intertwined with the geopolitics of nuclear weapons, is developed in the narrative as the background for that which is considered to be the first cyber weapon known to the public. A rich contribution to understand why and how cybersecurity got so important for state nations around the world as well as it's coming-of-military issue. One key reason to read this book is the ability it will provide you to grasp what is really behind the news headlines surrounding ...more
Avinash Halsnad
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great narration of a story of first digital weapon --stuxnet-- without too deep a delve into technical aspects. Captures a view from every angle possible, and does not judge on the parties involved which is left to users to decide. Loses one star because of few chapters after 75% where the author repeats few things mentioned before, which could have been removed. But great ending which talks about after effects of stuxnet with proliferation and other restriction against cyberwarfare.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers
  • Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door
  • Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War
  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
  • Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World
  • Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
  • The Perfect Weapon: How the Cyber Arms Race Set the World Afire
  • The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
  • Cyberwar: The Next Threat to National Security & What to Do About It
  • @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex
  • Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
  • Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It
  • Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat
  • Permanent Record
  • Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government--Saving Privacy in the Digital Age
  • No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
  • We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
  • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
See similar books…

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our l...
28 likes · 13 comments
“As Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence, told a US Senate committee in 2011, “If the nation went to war today, in a cyberwar, we would lose. We’re the most vulnerable. We’re the most connected. We have the most to lose.” 3 likes
“But withholding information about vulnerabilities in US systems so that they can be exploited in foreign ones creates a schism in the government that pits agencies that hoard and exploit zero days against those, like the Department of Homeland Security, that are supposed to help secure and protect US critical infrastructure and government systems.” 2 likes
More quotes…