Feeds

Microsoft Windows guru turns to cybercrime (fiction)

Bill Gates endorses 'what if' scenario

The essential guide to IT transformation

One of Microsoft's top Windows gurus and author of books and tools for securely coding Windows has embraced fiction with a debut tackling international cyber crime.

Platform and Services Division technical fellow Mark Russinovich has delivered a Die-Hard-4-style novel called Zero Day.

It tells the story of Osama-bin-Laiden-backed terrorists exploiting our decadent, infidel society's over-reliance on computers and the web.

Russinovich's site calls his work a chilling "'what if' scenario that, in a world completely reliant on technology, is more than possible today—it’s a cataclysmic disaster just waiting to happen".

We're not sure that's a call to unplug or download more service packs, but we read on anyway:

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.

The hero connecting all these dots is disaffected former government analyst Jeff Aiken, apparently disgusted by "the gross errors that led up to 9/11." The love interest is the "'stunningly attractive' Daryl Haugen, an old friend". The authorities are a mix of both pencil necked incompetents and traitors: "Jeff attempts to warn the authorities, but to little avail."

While this might excite those shopping for an easy read in their airport book shop before boarding that 10-hour flight to Seattle it's not burning up the world of publishing.

Endorsements have come from Russovich's ex-boss Bill Gates and Barack Obama's White House cyber security czar Howard Schmidt. According to Gates: "In his latest compelling creation he is raising awareness of the all too real threat of cyber terrorism."

Russinovich's earlier creations include Inside Windows 2000 and the Windows Internals series.

He created Sysinternals, which developed Windows administration and diagnostic tools and was bought by Microsoft in 2006 because he was doing such a bang-up job of exposing problems in Microsoft's code. Russinovich also co-founded Sysinternals.com, where he's written Windows utilities, including Regmon, Process Explorer and Rootkit Revealer.

Famously, in 2005 he exposed spyware installed by Sony BMG on its CDs that was intended to prevent copying of media running on Windows machines, but that crippled your PC if you dared removed the code. Sony's sloppy coding subsequently attracted the attention of then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Schmidt, meanwhile, appears to see Zero Day as a call to vigilance: "The risks that he writes about eerily mirror many situations that we see today." Russinovich taught Windows internals, troubleshooting and file system and device driver development to the CIA and the FBI.

Publishers Weekly gives Zero Day a cooler reception here, reckoning Russinovich's debut is by and for keyboard jockeys. "The author effectively employs the usual genre types-government traitors, amoral hackers, professional assassins-but his main characters spend too much time at the keyboard to build up much heat," it writes.

Thanks to a Reg reader for the tip. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?