Daniel Suarez’s “Daemon” gives new meaning to “blue screen of death”, and is hands down the best techno-thriller you will ever read, period. I’ve thought long and hard about an opening line for this post, and I truly mean what I say, this book changed my perspective on how I view the world. Not only that, but it is “pee your pants” scary as well. But not horror movie “Oh my God look zombies!” scary, more like the way that we as security professionals scare people by telling them about the evil things people do with computers and the Internet.
I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with Daniel Suarez. On the one hand, I love the guy for putting out one of the few books that I simply could not put down. Top that off with the “life changing experience” bit, outstanding technical accuracy, a story that is second to none, sex, violence, artificial intelligence, and we have a winner! On the other hand, I hate Daniel Suarez for causing tension between my wife and I because I thought I would take in some “light reading” on our recent vacation, and ended up with my face buried in my Amazon Kindle for a good portion of the trip.
I read my copy on the Amazon Kindle. It was very creepy to read it on the Kindle, as it is connected to the Amazon Wispernet (if you enable it). The kindle can automatically download new content and software. As I was reading “Daemon”, my kindle screensaver became more dynamic and started to display new content. Very scary!
There are few books that grab my attention immediately and captivate me that I just can’t put them down. I have to admit, I’m not much of a book person. I guess I have a bit of A.D.D, so its tough for me to stick with a book the whole way through. There are exceptions though. The last exception was “The Cuckoo’s Egg” by Clifford Stoll, and that was 10 years ago. Then along came “Daemon”, which just takes things to a whole new level.
The story revolves around a video game designer named Matthew Sobol. Sobol is a genius programmer that develops first class artificial intelligence that is built into the hottest video games. However, he’s been working on a side project, a program that looks for his obituary in the news, and if found, well, thats when the fun begins…
One of the things that impressed me the most, and made me wet myself, was the fact that the technology was believable. I found out after I finished the book that its not only believable, but its based on fact. If you visit the daemon web site you will find a page dedicated to proving that the technology talked about in the book is based on real concepts, products, and theory. The hacking used in the book is not the popcorn, laugh out loud, crap that we are used to seeing in the movies. There is SQL injection, cracking wireless networks with Asleap, and kernel level rootkits. How can you go wrong?
I’ve always wondered how well the automated parking system worked in the higher end cars. You know, the ones that claim they can park themselves? The DARPA Urban challenge takes it to a whole new level and invites teams to create vehicles that can drive themselves. If you think thats impressive, read “Daemon” and see how they are put to use.
I don’t want to give away too much about the plot in this post, but I will say that I highly recommend this book to everyone. After listening to Daniel speak, and give his reasons for writing the book, his mission is very much aligned with ours here at Security Weekly, make people aware of the risks. Not just techie people either, but regular people who should give a damn but have become content thinking that things will never happen to them. “The Daemon” will make you question how much we rely on computers. It will make you feel funny when you get that automated call from Southwest airlines telling you your flight has been delayed. You will distrust the automation built into computers and networks that support our every day well being. It will make you think, “Could this be the Daemon”?
[Note: Daniel Suarez will appear on episode 165 of Security Weekly, more information here.]