Countdown to Zero Day Review
Countdown to Zero Day is, to date, the most thorough review of the Stuxnet worm; the first weaponized computer virus built to retard the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Kim Zetter digs through the genesis of the virus, the methodologies, and the effects on modern politics, and military policies.
Beginning, this story is first told through the eyes of the anti-virus engineers across multiple companies and countries who individually found, and painstaking plumbed the depths of this historic virus; The story switches gears to international investigators whose job it is to monitor nuclear programs to control the proliferation of nuclear materials. This incredible story painstakingly explains the complex world of computer virus writing, deconstruction, as well as the grey and black market of computer vulnerabilities and how various governments participate in the this market.
In one chapter, we are introduced to the genesis of this highly complex plan from the US Military and and the internal struggles about opening this Pandora's box. At the end, the reader is introduced to a few of the complex legal, and moral issues surrounding the decision to weaponize computer networks, and it's effects of geopolitics, and how it shaped modern US Defense structure.
Throughout, Zetter relates the story of the Iranian nuclear program, including the subterfuge to avoid international investigators, and the effects this virus had in restricting progress towards Iran's nuclear ambitions. Bringing to light where Iran got their centrifuge blueprints from stolen plans from a European consortium, this story scratches the surface a supply chain of black-market dealers and resources for nuclear ambitions.
In the end, this story was a readable and enjoyable account of the turning point in history that is the weaponization of software with such precision to accomplish such a specific task. The book shows but a glimpse of the effort required to build and deliver this software on target to meet it's objective. A rewarding read, I will recommend this as a primer to world of digital warfare, and a historic view to the first, found, digital weapon for political purposes.