Sunday, September 3, 2023

Review: Zero Days

Zero Days Zero Days by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating 3,8-4 rounded to 4, as it was a page-turner.
Could have rounded down, as it was not totally what I wanted, so here my review:
My own background is former IT Helpdesk more or less professional. Since late 1985 (Xmas) I have owned and used computers. The It Girl
For fear of spoiling the story I did not read too much of the blurb and nearly no reviews.
As the reviews for her earlier books where highly praising it, I bought but did not read yet The It Girl and plan to buy and read The Turn of the Key.

This book feels a bit like the movie/old TV-series "The Fugitive" (Movie with Harrison Ford), a woman on the run. With a bit of real IT thrown in, together with social media.

What I wanted was rather less "woman on the run" and more IT / social-media.
The main events are rather well explained, and the tech parts are without fault and not going to deep for the unwashed masses.

The job of the husband-wife couple is for companies and called penetration-testing, and is divided in two parts, basic-breaking&entering and hacking, or getting access through social engineering. Then writing a report about the vulnerabilities and mistakes of the company and giving advise what can be done. Basically that is what the late Kevin Mitnick has done and described in his book The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, which I have yet to buy and read.
In the book that is abbreviated to pen-testing, and this, together with the parts about Bitcoin, crypto-exchange and the description of getting access to the IT of a company are spot-on and felt real. That saved my rating from getting rounded down to 3 stars.

A point that is made, and this rings true. is that the main problem is not the IT., but the human part. As someone who worked as a Helpdesk slave, service and friendliness is ingrained and sometimes I must stopp myself from saying YES once too often and helping.
People, especially in an office-environment are often too trusting and friendly and tend to help stranger, which are correctly dressed and themselves friendly and seem harmless. And a little bending of the rules, fibbing, lying and confidently state things go a long way. There is a scene in the movie Antitrust (2001) where a new employee gets instructed to wear his lanyard with the company-ID/Keycard all time and challenge others who do not display it openly.
This is also the last scene in the book, and one of the best.

Recommended for a page-turner of "a woman on the run" and believable IT parts thrown in, for people with basic understanding and interest in IT, hacking and bitcoin. But I would have liked more of the IT-part. And thus it felt too long for me, even though it was a quick read.

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