Never mind North Korea's nuclear capabilities. In the latest thriller from former Navy men Bruns and Olson (Jihadi Apprentice, 2016, etc.), Kim Jong-un has the world's most dangerous cyberterrorist working for him—and the lethal hacker has America in his crosshairs.
The terrorist is Rafiq Roshed, a rogue operative whose past feats include shutting down the power grid serving America's east coast and nearly detonating a nuclear device in Minneapolis. He is for the moment hiding out on a small island off the coast of North Korea. His master plan is to incite warfare among the U.S., China, and Japan by infecting their military networks. Under increasing threat as the cyber-controlled skirmishes intensify, America places its best hopes for survival on the skills of three exceptional midshipmen from the Naval Academy, including a tech prodigy who is a genius at "pattern rec." The action bounces in short chapters among Washington, D.C., and Pyongyang, Japan and Russia, Australia and Argentina. The terrorist, we learn, is an outcast who lost his family to the cyberwars and has a vendetta against the United States. Kim makes a brief, forgettable appearance (he likes California grapes). The unnamed, infrequently seen American president is also nondescript. But fans of the cyberwarfare genre will enjoy the novel's snappy pace, broad cast of characters, and timeliness. One reassuring takeaway is that U.S. networks are harder to crack than one might think. Bruns and Olson leave us hoping we don't have to find out how much harder.
The authors consider the possible consequences of a cyberattack on America's military, to entertaining but unsettling effect.