I came across The Florentine Deception in the Cybersecurity Canon List. It was listed as a gateway book for 2016. Written by, Carey Nachenberg, co-inventor of Norton Antivirus, it is a suspense thriller novel with cybersecurity as an underlying theme. It is one of those cybersecurity focused novels which amalgamate the two worlds in a perfect blend.
Following is a summary of the book, as published on the Cybersecurity Canon website:
The book begins when cybersecurity expert, Alex Fife, is asked to clean up an old PC his father purchased at an estate sale, only to discover a piece of rather sophisticated malware that captures the user’s keystrokes and sends them to an email server in Russia. To Fife, this situation doesn’t compute; and after a bit of forensic analysis and some sleuthing about the PC’s previous owner, he determines that this system compromise is no accident. In his investigation, Fife also discovers a mysterious detail he can’t quite figure out – something about an item known as Florentine.
The Florentine Deception is a picaresque novel in that it follows Fife’s investigation from beginning to end. Through this journey, Alex gets increasingly engaged as his investigation evolves from the obsessive hobby of a rich, out-of-work technology executive to an international incident with potentially devastating national security implications.
While The Florentine Deception is most certainly a fun read, it also has educational value for cybersecurity professionals. The author is an experience cybersecurity professional and Symantec Fellow who certainly has in-depth experience with cyberattacks, and this knowledge is clearly evident in his descriptions of social engineering techniques, threat actors, and malware. Yet he is able to weave cybersecurity themes throughout the book without overwhelming less erudite readers with technical gobbledygook. The story also includes a credible, albeit frightening cyberwar-like conclusion. In this way, the book is enlightening and entertaining.
It makes an interesting read and has educational value for both, a regular reader and a cybersecurity professional. The Kindle edition of the book is available here.
Uday Mittal (OSCP, Associate CISSP, DCPP) is the founder of Yaksas CSC. He has over 4 years of experience in dealing with various issues related to cyber security. He is actively working towards educating people on cyber security risks and steps to mitigate them. He’s also a member of (ISC)2, ISACA and DSCI.