Top cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter tells the story behind the virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and reveals how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare—one in which a digital attack can have the same damaging capability as a megaton bomb.
In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency observed that centrifuges at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant had been failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause was a complete mystery—apparently as much to the technicians changing the centrifuges as to the inspectors observing them.
Then, 5 months later, a seemingly unrelated event occurred: A computer security agency in Belarus was called in to troubleshoot some computer systems in Iran that were crashing and rebooting repeatedly.
At first, the agency’s programmers believed the malicious code on the machines was a simple, routine piece of malware. However as they and other specialists world wide investigated, they found a mysterious virus of unparalleled complexity.
They had, they quickly discovered, stumbled upon the world’s first digital weapon. For Stuxnet, as it came to be known, was not like some other virus or worm constructed before: Rather than merely hijacking targeted computer systems or stealing data from them, it escaped the digital realm to wreak actual, physical destruction on a nuclear facility.
In these pages, Wired journalist Kim Zetter draws on her in depth sources and experience to tell the story behind Stuxnet’s planning, execution, and discovery, covering its genesis within the corridors of Bush’s White House and its unleashing on systems in Iran—and telling the spectacular, unlikely story of the security geeks who managed to unravel a sabotage campaign years in the making.
However Countdown to Zero Day ranges far beyond Stuxnet itself. Here, Zetter reveals to us how digital warfare developed within the US. She takes us inside today’s flourishing 0-day “gray markets,” in which intelligence agencies and militaries pay enormous sums for the malicious code they need to carry out and attacks and infiltrations. She reveals just how vulnerable a lot of our own crucial systems are to Stuxnet-like strikes, from nation-state adversaries & anonymous hackers alike—and reveals to us simply what would possibly occur should our infrastructure be targeted by such an assault.
Propelled by Kim’s unique information and access, and filled with eye-opening explanations of the technologies concerned, Countdown to Zero Day is a prescient and comprehensive portrait of a world on the fringe of a new form of war.
Written by: Kim Zetter
Narrated by: Joe Ochman
Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
Release Date:11 November 2014
Publisher: Random House Audio