This week when I read about the Chinese cyber-attacks, and especially the computer security firm (Mandiant) that revealed them, I couldn't help but think of well, The Shadow Warriors, and how in 1993 (twenty years ago) I discovered that the Computer Security Conference (even then an annual one) was held at Raffles Place in Singapore, and I had an (imagined) computer security firm with a mission and employees, and I took them to Singapore and bad stuff happened, and The Shadow Warriors novel was born. Paul Strassman gave me the idea for the software agents (shadow warriors) who roamed cyberspace causing trouble and finally began an info war, or information warfare. I had a character we first meet in Hong Kong named Ocho Lee, who was at the root of the trouble. This was before Hong Kong became part of China, although if you were ever in Hong Kong, you know that it was always China and today China has become like Hong Kong, not what everyone worried about back in the day.
Remember the domino theory? That once the commies got their mitts on unsteady little democracies, they would all fall like dominoes. That didn't happen, and if fact if was the Communist bloc that fell like dominoes. How could we have had it so wrong?
But I digress. Even in 1993 computer security was a hot topic as it is today. This week The Boston Globe had an interesting article about the company (Mandiant) that blew the whistle on the Chinese. Mandiant is not our government but a "digital forensics" company that protects private companies from hack attacks and information theft. Private firms playing major role against cyberattacks
Most of the Mandiant gurus are "retired intelligence and law enforcement agents who specialize in computer forensics." I went to the website and they were all men, kind of a surprise in this day and age. Mandiant is the Blackwater of Computer Security according to the Globe
This is interesting stuff, and although I am no longer writing about technology (it changed faster than I could write and sell) the temptation is still there.
My ficitonal computer security company was Nemecek Associates. Franz Nemecek was a retired one-time math professor who fled the Hungarian revolution. Wayne Wendel was a hacker's hacker in the MIT tradition. Emma Lee Davis happened into computer security and is the admittedly least technical of the trio, but definitely has her nerdy moments and she functions as the project manager who doesn't have to dig down dirty into the bits and bytes. Nemecek is assisted by various hackers, old MIT buddies of Wayne's. This was so much fun to write about, and I have two unsold books about Emma's (and the others) adventures. The most fun is when Emma and Wayne go to Burning Man and the exciting times they have on the Playa. Lots of computer geeks and gurus to go Burning Man.
If you think all this sounds like a good read, pick up a copy of The Shadow Warriors, available in trade paperback or in ebook form. Try Amazon or Smashwords for the e-book, Amazon for the paper copy. The author is Judith Copek, who made a huge mistake by not checking Google before she assigned the title of so many other books, games and what have you to her novel. A mistake not to be made again.
Computer security can be exciting, even riveting, because it's the white hats against the black hats, and they're both smart and interesting. And devious. Always devious.