Forsyth's Spies And Hacking

Bruce Von Stiers

Hacking and cyberwarfare have never been more in the public eye than the last couple of years. No matter what side of the fence you're on, there is no denying the impact of the accusations of Russia hacking and influencing the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

When the world of spies and espionage gets mixed in with hacking, there is bound to be more than a bit of intrigue. That is the foundation that is laid out in the new novel by Frederick Forsyth.

As one of the grand masters of spy and espionage fiction, Forsyth set his sights on the world of hacking. The title of the new novel is The Fox. It was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons.

The novel opens as there has been a major hack into the NSA data center at Fort Meade. This data center is supposed to be one of the most impregnable and secured computer centers in the world. Yet someone was able to hack into it. But nothing was taken, no viruses uploaded into the mainframes, nothing. The hack was subsequently traced to a residence in Great Britain.

A raid on that residence ensues and it is discovered that it was a teenager who had hacked the NSA. Instead of turning the young man over to the Americans, the British come up with a plan to utilize the teen's unique hacking skills. Overseeing this plan is a former deputy chief of the British Secret intelligence Service, Adrian Weston. The plan is to hack into a top secret Russian data center. If that hack is successful, there well might be other opportunities.

The novel deals a lot with Weston and the espionage chess game that is played out against the enemies and antagonists of Great Britain and her allies. Although the young hacker, Luke Jennings, isn't the main focus of the novel, he does play a significant role in it.

Forsyth seems to have done a lot of research into the possibilities and probabilities of the nuclear arms race. That research plays heavily in the plot elements of the novel. He also did a lot of research on computer data centers and the ability, or lack of, to be hacked. Forsyth also incorporates real people such as the current U.S. President and the leader of North Korea as affected characters in the novel.

The Fox is a worthy novel. I was intrigued by the premise of a hacker working for the good guys with no agenda, which is how Luke Jennings is presented. Add in the spy and espionage angle and you get a pretty decent read by one of the masters of the genre.


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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers