Counting from Zero | Alan B. Johnston
Counting from Zero
Mick O'Malley Series Book 1
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? Unfolding across three continents, this novel written by an Internet expert gives a realistic insider's view of the thrust and parry world of computer security and cryptography, and the very real threat of botnets.
Returning to Zero
Mick O'Malley Series Book 2
The sequel is now available! Returning to Zero gives a dramatically realistic view of the ongoing struggle to secure today's Internet from botnets, cyber criminal networks, and malicious nation-state actors. The fight for the botnet continues!
“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
“Counting from Zero brings Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler into the computer age.”
- Diana Lutz
Counting from Zero
Book 1 of the Mick O'Malley Series
Can one man prevent a global Internet Armageddon? At what personal cost?
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.
With today's Internet-based electronic commerce and banking, and global markets and supply chain management, a worldwide Internet collapse would be catastrophic, likely plunging us into an economic depression. Against this backdrop, the action in Counting from Zero unfolds.
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. His unique hacker skills and network of friends enable him to fight back, breaking the encryption used by the botnet. More cyber prep than cyber punk, Mick uses real-life tools and techniques to encrypt all his communications. 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 novel 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.
Get it now on Amazon.
Returning to Zero
Book 2 of the Mick O'Malley Series
The fight for control of the massive Zed.Kicker botnet continues in Returning to Zero, the sequel to the explosive technothriller Counting from Zero that introduced Mick O’Malley and his unlikely hacker friends. The ultimate weapon of the Internet arms race is the botnet, short for a robot network of compromised computers organized to receive commands over the Internet and operate in concert. Control of a botnet gives the power to threaten individuals, organizations, and even nation states by launching punishing denial of service attack targeting commerce, public safety, and security.
Mick O’Malley is a former security consultant, now hiding out in Australia under an alternative identity. Mick learns startling news about the events that turned his life upside down in Kiev six months previously. As Mick loses control of the botnet, he is drawn into a new global adventure in an attempt to contain the zombie computers that threaten the Internet.
Across four continents, Mick tracks the shadowy exploit writer who now controls the botnet, evading governments and cybercriminals alike. Whom should Mick trust: a compromised intelligence asset, a whistle-blowing government insider, a flighty open source privateer, a returned-from-retirement military operative, or a smuggler on the high seas? Do the cyber defenses of encryption and walls, virtual and physical, provide protection or are they an illusion? Will his risky plan neutralize the botnet for good?
Along the way, Mick finds something more dangerous than the technology, and discovers that not all is what it seems, even within his close circle of friends.
Returning to Zero gives a dramatically realistic view of the ongoing struggle to secure today’s Internet from botnets, cyber criminal networks, and malicious nation-state actors.
- Johnston, Alan B., Returning to Zero (Mick O'Malley Series Book 2). 2017.
- Johnston, Alan B., Counting from Zero (Mick O'Malley Series Book 1). 2011.
- Johnston, Alan B., Understanding the Session Initiation Protocol. 4th Edition Norwood: Artech House, 2015.
- Sinnreich, Henry, and Alan B. Johnston, Internet Communications using SIP. 2nd Edition, New York: Wiley, 2006.
- Johnston, Alan B., and Dave Piscitello, Understanding Voice over IP Security. Norwood: Artech House, 2006.
- Sinnreich, Henry, Alan B. Johnston, and Robert J. Sparks, SIP Beyond VoIP. Melville: VON Publishing, 2005.
Alan B. Johnston
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, computer 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. He is the co-author of the Session Initiation Protocol, SIP, and the ZRTP voice security protocol standards. 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.
- "Computer expert struggles to foil massive Internet attack in new novel" by Diana Lutz, Washington University
- "If you enjoyed 7 Deadliest UC Attacks, you may also like the fiction book Counting From Zero by Dan York
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- "Counting from Zero by Alan B Johnson" by The Book Faerie
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- "A Book Geek: Counting from Zero" review by LLM
- My Book Retreat: Book Review: Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston
- The Book Diva's Reads: Book 171: COUNTING FROM ZERO Review
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- Press Release: How much longer can the Internet survive attacks from Botnets? February 28, 2011
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- Free Software Foundation
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Center for Democracy and Technology
- The Internet Society
- GNU Privacy Guard
- The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh
- The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin D. Mitnick and William L. Simon
- Practical Cryptography by Bruce Schneier
- Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet by Joseph Menn