Welcome to Zero Day. I’m a journalist who has been covering cybersecurity and national security for more than 15 years, writing about hacking, election security, spies, espionage, surveillance, and digital warfare for WIRED, Politico, the New York Times, Washington Post, Motherboard/Vice, The Intercept and many others. I’m the author of the book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon.
A zero day is a security hole in software that the software maker doesn’t know about yet and that remains unpatched, leaving systems vulnerable to be hacked. Zero Days are one of the most prized possessions of hackers — especially nation-state spies — who use them to break silently into computers where they can remain for months or years conducting reconnaissance, siphoning sensitive data, or planting logic bombs and other potentially destructive tools.
In 2007, the US and Israel launched one of the most sophisticated nation-state cyberattacks ever conducted, known as Stuxnet, which exploited an unprecedented five zero-day vulnerabilities in a single campaign. The two nations used the vulnerabilities to break into highly secured systems at a nuclear facility in Iran and sabotage centrifuges being used to enrich uranium — that is, until the code spread wildly out of control and got the attackers caught. In Countdown to Zero Day, I unraveled the mystery around how security researchers stumbled upon the attack code and spent months reverse-engineering or disassembling the complex digital weapon to figure out what it was targeting and what it was designed to do.
A disassembler is a tool for translating the binary code that a computer reads into language a human can understand. Over the years that I’ve worked as a journalist, I’ve become a kind of human disassembler — translating complex issues into simple, accessible language and concepts that non-tech readers can understand while still being informative for more technically savvy readers.
Here at Zero Day, I’ll be aiming to do more of the same. I’ll also strive to help readers cut through the fog of falsehoods — dispel myths, get ahead of rapidly spreading misinformation, correct the record and provide expertise and analysis when useful. This explainer that I wrote in 2016 about the FBI’s battle with Apple over the San Bernardino iPhone is an example of this.
I’ll continue to write for other publications, breaking news, doing investigative work and writing lengthy magazine pieces. But I may also break news and publish feature stories here. This will be a work-in-progress as I get my footing and figure out the best way to use this new platform. I’d love to get your feedback as I do so. My aim will be to serve you, the reader, and the best way to do that is to hear from you about how I’m doing.
If you love stories about hackers, spies, cybercrime and the intersection between cybersecurity and national security, this publication should interest you.
Why am I doing this? While I love writing for media outlets, I’m also itching for the freedom to follow where a lead takes me, to spend time digging into investigations, and to tell a good yarn in the way it needs to be told without altering it to fit a publication’s particular writing style. I’m also interested in having a more direct connection with readers who want to follow and support this kind of work through both story tips and subscriptions.
If you follow my articles and tweets or have read my book, you already have a good idea of what I cover and how I do it. But for those of you who may not be familiar with my work, see the Author page for examples.
And if you want to reach me, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer to communicate via an encrypted channel, send me a DM @KimZetter to get contact details.
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Free or Paid Subscription?
Zero Day will publish once a week for now — likely coming to your inboxes on Friday. But if there is interesting news or events earlier in the week that cries out to be covered, I may publish more than once a week. I may also co-publish some pieces here and on a media outlet’s site. I’m still figuring this out.
For the first month at least, everything published here will be free to all readers, though anyone who would like to support my work can sign up for a paid subscription now or at any time — for $10 a month or $100 a year. There is also a founder’s subscription rate (suggested at $300 a year, but you can change it). With the founder’s rate, you’ll get access to ask-me-anything sessions and how-the-story-got-made backgrounders.
After the first month or so I’ll implement a paywall for paid subscribers that will offer additional content. I’ll make an announcement before this occurs. Some content will still be free to all readers even after the paywall is enabled.
Note About Sources
Like any publication, some of the people I quote in stories published here may also be paid subscribers to the publication.
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