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Counting from Zero

Counting from Zero

3.1 9
by Alan B. Johnston
Can a security expert save the Internet from a catastrophic zero day cyber attack by a network of zombie computers, known as a botnet? At what cost?

"Credible and believable, this story is told by a subject matter expert. I could not wait to find out what happened next."
- Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer

"The threat to the Internet from worms, viruses, botnets,


Can a security expert save the Internet from a catastrophic zero day cyber attack by a network of zombie computers, known as a botnet? At what cost?

"Credible and believable, this story is told by a subject matter expert. I could not wait to find out what happened next."
- Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer

"The threat to the Internet from worms, viruses, botnets, and zombie computers is real, and growing. Counting from Zero is a great way to come up to speed on the alarming state of affairs, and Johnston draws you in with his story and believable cast of characters."
- Phil Zimmermann, creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) the most widely used email encryption program

Today, every computer connected to the Internet is under constant attack from viruses, worms, port scans, and spam. Security professionals continually fight to contain newly unleashed cyber attacks, known as 'zero day' attacks, only to have new attacks launched. Millions of computers have already succumbed, and, without their owner's knowledge, have become slave computers - remotely controlled 'zombies'. Under the control of organized crime and backed by foreign governments, these computers are morphing into collections known in the industry as botnets, short for robot networks.

Internet security expert Mick O'Malley is the only one who recognizes the growing threat of the ultimate zero day attack on the Internet from a massive botnet, and his unique hacker skills and network of colleagues enable him to fight back. More cyber prep than cyber punk, Mick uses real-life tools and techniques to encrypt all his communications, and uses these skills to break the encryption used by the botnet. Mick uses encryption on a personal level, too, having multiple passports and multiple names and identities. While crisscrossing the globe in the air, on land, and at sea investigating the threat, Mick becomes the target of attacks on his reputation, his identity, and ultimately his life.

Along the way, Mick meets Kateryna Petrescu, a beautiful Romanian firewall expert. Mick's attraction to Kateryna develops as they work closely together and share the excitement and danger. Why is the government following Mick and trying to intercept his communications? Can he stop the zero day attack before it is unleashed? What will be the cost to Mick for his single mindedness?

Unfolding across three continents, the new techno thriller "Counting from Zero" gives a realistic insider's view of the thrust and parry world of computer security and cryptography, and the very real threat of botnets.

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Originally from Australia, Alan B. Johnston grew up in the United States surrounded by technology. Always going to become an engineer, he experimented with amateur radio, coding and creative writing from an early age, and traveled the world with his family. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering, and has worked in industry and taught at a number of universities. He has written five best-selling technical books and authored over thirty patents and international standards in real-time communications over Internet Protocol and in security, including co-authoring the ZRTP voice security protocol standard. He enjoys mentoring robotics teams and hacking around with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis. He lives near Seattle and continues to travel the world, ride motorcycles, and sail. Returning to Zero is his second novel, the continuation of the story of Mick O'Malley and the botnet started in his first novel Counting from Zero.

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Counting from Zero 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Claude_Hayn More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of both mystery thriller novels and Internet technology. From the start I found the book intriguing. We follow a complex and sophisticated plot that takes us to numerous international locations. The plot continually thickens as the layers unfold between the interests of powerful and unscrupulous figures in government and private enterprise seeking to further their financial and political ends. The cutting-edge Internet communications technologies are thoughtfully explained in detail for the reader, and their implications further intensify the unrelenting action. In the course of the story our hero, Mick O'Malley, a young, financially independent and highly respected Internet security guru staves off numerous Internet crippling events that have potentially devastating consequences on a worldwide scale. Early on Mick discovers a nefarious plot designed to cripple the Internet in order to hold governments and corporations hostage. We follow Mick around the world as he travels to conferences where he is lecturing, high-security client locations and his East Village home/lab. Mick continually risks his life as his numerous allies and enemies alike pursue him while he works to thwart evil. Johnston's focus on locations, personalities and the potential manipulation by those capable of using the Internet for exploitation is perfectly accurate. This book would only appear to be fiction to those of us who are not involved. This book is describing some very real possibilities and threats. Now that I've gotten to know the characters I'm looking forward to the next account of Mick's adventures. This is clearly the future and just the beginning.
penandtome More than 1 year ago
Woe is he who believes that passwords and virus protection software sufficient to safeguard internet users' information from being reviewed, stolen or used to undermine individual freedoms. *** Network administrators strive to use their advanced programming skills and encryption skills to protect computers and the information stored on them. Excerpts from an imaginary Security and Other Lies Blog are interwoven throughout the story to explain how administrators protect against a steady stream of security threats. In this story, administrators and programmers at the top of their field are so paranoid about the safety of the information on the internet that they use disposable cell phones, encrypt all correspondence and continuously change passwords. Author Alan B. Johnston's main character, Mike O'Malley, demonstrates extreme paranoia to obtain self preservation as one attempt after another is made on the internet, his accounts and even his life. World renowned for his skills, Mike uses many aliases, multiple passports, off shore accounts and untraceable modes of transportation to keep out of reach of government officials and those who plot to take over the internet, as he bounces from one continent to another. This fast paced book will have you running to your computer to feverously change all passwords, update virus protection and add additional firewalls.
honoliipali More than 1 year ago
The author is obviously very adept in the internet and VoIP world and especially with the related security issues. Unfortunately, the bulk of readers are not and this book will not appeal to them or have them dismissing it early never to again read Alan Johnston. That is unfortunate IMHO. I am a novice in the IT security world. I trust the internet pretty much but do use the tools provided through Comcast and Microsoft essentials to protect me. I did not understand a great deal of the binary speak but I took the time to look past that. I think the writing style is very readable. The characters are alive and their personalities show through. I enjoyed this thriller even though the ending was nothing more than a set up for the sequel and continuing saga of the botnet. The author has written a novel that deserves a read but he must understand that he is severely limiting his audience. I hope that the sequel is less technical (although some is necessary for the storyline) and more engaging for the average reader. Alan Johnston is a good writer. I only hope he can stray from the in-depth IT techno babble speak. Give this book a try!
acreech More than 1 year ago
Mick is a computer genius who is diligent on protecting his identity and activities through the internet. After an attack on the internet, Mick sets out to discover who is behind the attack and why it was activated. During the process, Mick finds his life in danger. The computer/internet jardon was above my head, especially the blog pages that began each chapter but the rest of the story was very enjoyable.
PaigeLucken More than 1 year ago
Counting From Zero fits the paradigm of the modern thriller and brings the fear right up-to-date with the threat of a global cyber attack. Mick O'Malley, after spotting and fixing some 'zero day' attacks on the internet takes it upon himself to try to discover more. With a little help from his friends, a bit of a love interest and some running from the bad guys this story follows his journey to find out who is behind the attacks, how they are achieving them and how to eliminate the threat. Mick is an internet security consultant who is particularly paranoid about his security and has a tendency to become slightly repetitive in this area. He is a typical computer 'geek' (bad clothes and all) and he is also a bit of a techno snob and elitist. Mick is not a hard guy to like, but as he is not a typical protagonist it takes a bit more work on the part of the reader to see him as the hero. This novel is both educational and entertaining and is very obviously written by an expert in the field of internet security. The structure is very much like 'Sophie's World' (Jostein Gaarder)in the manner that it stops to educate the reader and then continues on with the tale. Through reading this book I have learnt a lot more about the internet and internet security, but possibly to the detriment of the story and characters. If anything this book is too detailed in its descriptions of 'botnets' etc. and this leaves little space to build up the pace and the tension in the story. I think that there is a lot of potential here and that a second book could be a lot more punchy and pacey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
techieSB More than 1 year ago
An exciting romp through the seamy side of cyberspace, with side trips on motorcycles and sailboats. The author's expertise in the world of internet security is apparent in this page turner that that informs and entertains even the casual computer user.