Book Review: Kim Zetter’s Countdown to Zero Day

Published September 15th, 2015 by Oldmenadmin

An excellent book that should be basic reading for anyone who holds forth about Iran and its nuclear program.

Kim Zetter’s Countdown to Zero Day is a remarkable read! On the surface it is merely the story of the discovery of the Stuxnet computer virus, which disabled enrichment centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear program. However, the book is so much more. It is well-written and meticulously referenced with footnotes that give the work a feeling of rock-solid reliability. Simultaneously, Zetter tracks down the steps of the discovery of the virus, the reasons for its discovery, its architecture and finally its reason for being. In the current political climate, this book should be required reading for anyone propounding an opinion about Iran and its nuclear program.

Iran’s continued deception becomes apparent with each turn of the bureaucratic crank of the IAEA. Since 1986, the Islamic republic has ignored, deceived and delayed the inspections that they now say is a reason for them to get the nuclear weapons that they said they never wanted ten years ago. Frustrations with the perfidy of the Iranians is intimated as the proximate cause of Stuxnet’s creation.

Moreover, the creation of viruses, trojan horses, worms and other malware is brought into sharp focus. The business of malware is exposed. The commercial attempts to discover a new virus (a day zero exploit) are carefully documented including Symantec’s around the clock and around the world, 24/7 crusade to find and fix the vulnerabilities discovered by the hackers.

Normally, I would have relegated this topic to reading a summary. Normally, I would have been terribly wrong. Zetter’s careful scholarship, her apt similes for complicated technical issues and her pacing, make this a book of immediacy and lasting importance.

Just so you know, I changed all my passwords half-way through the book.

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