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Monday, April 18, 2011

Review - Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston

Title: Counting from Zero

Author: Alan B. Johnston

Publisher: Self Published

Buy Counting from Zero here

Rating: You Gotta Read

Reviewer: Val

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?

With a flurry of quirky characters, I found myself smiling throughout this book. Mick is your typical computer geek that is obsessed with security and the lengths he goes to, at first, made me think he was going overboard. As the story progressed I found that as far as computer security goes, you can never be too careful. I enjoyed the different array of characters. Each one was distinctly unique and all had a quick sense of humor. Kateryna's character made me laugh because she was from another country and kept trying to figure out what everyone was saying. The relationship twist is something I didn't see coming.

The plot in Counting from Zero was gripping. Mick travelled all over the world and Mr. Johnston did an exceptional job of painting a detailed portrait of each location in which a convention was held, especially Las Vegas. (I was raised there and it took me down memory lane.) It is very important that you pay close attention to the beginning because the author is developing the plot as well as the characters. There are some spots that you can't miss. As I read on, the action kicked in and I was holding my breath. This was an outstanding plot line. Lots of action, strong characters and the ability to make me laugh while I am learning something are all things I look forward to in a book. This book delivered!

One of the best things about this book is that it is not only entertaining but it's educational as well. Being a computer major in college, I was very excited to be able to review Counting from Zero. Although this book uses a lot of computer lingo, Mr. Johnston has done an exceptional job of explaining what each term means. A person with no computer background or knowledge can still enjoy this book with a clear understanding of what the author meant to say. In fact, a lot of what is explained in this book was explained in a better, if not more concise way than my teacher was able to explain. It was one of those "Aha" moments for me when, what my teacher explained and the example Mr. Johnston used both clicked into place. To Mr. Johnston, I would like to thank you for writing a book that not only educated and entertained me but helped me as well. I look forward to reading more of your work. You did an exceptional job with Counting from Zero.

If you are a computer user on any level, this is a must have book for you to own. Alan B. Johnston brings forth a very real possibility that, to an extent, is already happening in the real world. Buy this book and encourage others to do the same. Although this is a book of fiction, it is based on knowledge that simply MUST be shared. Along with a short biography of the author, you will find a list of recommended reading and internet sources should you want to read further into internet security. I found this to be an added bonus. With a world full with computer technology, it is very possible that we will see situations close to what are in this book in our lifetime. Educate yourself and those around you. Counting from Zero is a book that has just been added to my "read several times" shelf. I highly recommend it!

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