A former government computer analyst whose warnings of the 9/11 attacks were ignored goes all out to prevent a worldwide cyber attack.
Drawing on his experience as a Microsoft bigwig and cyber-security expert, Russinovich raises a cautionary red flag with his first novel, which exposes the failure of governments and corporations to take the necessary steps to protect their computer systems. His alter ego is Jeff Aiken, buttoned-down head of a prosperous computer security firm, who, in connecting the dots between a flurry of computer mishaps in different parts of the world, detects a nightmarish global threat. Mysteriously, systems are shutting down on airliners, at financial institutions, in hospitals, at auto factories and, most scarily, at nuclear power plants. People are getting killed and injured. The genius hacker behind the chaos, dubbed Superphreak, is a wheelchair-bound Russian named Vladimir in Moscow, where a Chechen terrorist bomb crippled him. Working with the beautiful IT manager of a targeted New York law firm and an equally attractive old acquaintance in the field now working out of Homeland Security, Jeff penetrates codes and tries to devise effective defenses. Nothing if not topical, this is a competent thriller boasting a full share of conspiracies, betrayals, violence and against-the-clock maneuvers. Even in jumping around the globe with short, tersely written segments, though, the novel can be a bit plodding, especially when the author stops the action to lecture or educate on the cyberterrorism threat. And the appropriately plain-named Jeff (never referred to by his last name) is too bland to give the narrative much-needed jolts of personality or derring-do. The death of his fiancée in the World Trade Center attack is a plot detail with little resonance.
An authoritative cyber thriller that would have benefited from greater flights of fancy.