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Sandworm

A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Immensely readable…A hair-raising, cautionary tale about the burgeoning, post-Stuxnet world of state-sponsored hackers.” (Washington Post)

From Wired senior writer Andy Greenberg comes the true story of the most devastating cyberattack in history and the desperate hunt to identify and track the elite Russian agents behind it

In 2014, the world witnessed the start of a mysterious series of cyberattacks. Targeting American utility companies, NATO, and electric grids in Eastern Europe, the strikes grew ever more brazen. They culminated in the summer of 2017, when the malware known as NotPetya was unleashed, penetrating, disrupting, and paralyzing some of the world's largest businesses - from drug manufacturers to software developers to shipping companies. At the attack's epicenter in Ukraine, ATMs froze. The railway and postal systems shut down. Hospitals went dark. NotPetya spread around the world, inflicting an unprecedented 10 billion dollars in damage - the largest, most devastating cyberattack the world had ever seen.

The hackers behind these attacks are quickly gaining a reputation as the most dangerous team of cyberwarriors in history: a group known as Sandworm. Working in the service of Russia's military intelligence agency, they represent a persistent, highly skilled force, one whose talents are matched by their willingness to launch broad, unrestrained attacks on the most critical infrastructure of their adversaries. They target government and private sector, military, and civilians alike.

A chilling, globe-spanning detective story, Sandworm considers the danger this force poses to our national security and stability. As the Kremlin's role in foreign government manipulation comes into greater focus, Sandworm exposes the realities not just of Russia's global digital offensive, but of an era where warfare ceases to be waged on the battlefield. It reveals how the lines between digital and physical conflict, between wartime and peacetime, have begun to blur - with world-shaking implications.

©2019 Andy Greenberg (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sandworm is a sobering examination of an underreported story: The menace Russian hackers pose to the critical infrastructure of the West. With the nuance of a reporter and the pace of a thriller writer, Andy Greenberg gives us a glimpse of the cyberwars of the future while at the same time placing his story in the long arc of Russian and Ukrainian history." (Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Red Famine)

"A terrifying and infuriating look at a future in which cyberwar hawks and cyberwar deniers join forces to literally threaten our ability to continue civilization. Sandworm shows how, in our leaders’ focus on maintaining digital weapons to attack our enemies, they've left our own critical infrastructure defenseless." (Cory Doctorow, New York Times best-selling author of Little Brother and Radicalized)

"Sandworm hits that sweet spot of being both informative and entertaining as hell. In a journey that hopscotches from war-torn Ukraine to shadowy chatrooms to the halls of the UN, Greenberg takes readers on the hunt for the network of Russian hackers behind the most damaging cyberattack to occur so far. It is well worth your read." (P. W. Singer, author of Ghost Fleet and LikeWar)

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    3 out of 5 stars

Really wanted to enjoy this

But struggled to get into it. Granted I'm a nerd and didn't need the introductions it kept on providing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ndru1
  • 12-11-2019

Thru the eyes of the Sandworm's hunters and prey

I've always enjoyed Wired's in-depth reporting on major cyber attacks, so when Andy Greenberg put out a book last week I grabbed it. While many recent books have been about stolen personal data and influence campaigns by China and North Korea, this books has a clear focus: weapons of cyber destruction by Russia.

Chronogically, the book starts with the first attack on the Ukrainian power grid in 2015. This attack use the Dark Energy malware, which included the first of many references to Frank Herbert's Dune, hence Sandworm. If you have read other books on cyber war, you can probably skip the first two sections.

It gets interesting in Section 3 with the second hack on the Ukrainian power grid, in which experts note that the attackers held back from doing their worst possible damage. The group was also responsible for NotPetya, the most damaging cyber attack till date that ravaged the Ukraine and also several MNCs, who had links to Ukraine.

Greenberg also links the group to the hacking of various elections and concludes that all these attacks - whether noisy influence campaigns or stealthy destruction of infrastructure - are all by Russia's GRU and all have the primary goal of influence.

What makes the book very readable is seeing the story of each attach unfold through the viewpoints of key players in each incident. So while I may have revealed some of the takeaway, I am definitely not spoiling the enjoyment of anyone who wants to read it.

For some samples of Greenberg's writing (you can skip these sections in the book later):
https://www.wired.com/2016/03/inside-cunning-unprecedented-hack-ukraines-power-grid/
https://www.wired.com/story/crash-override-malware/
https://www.wired.com/story/untold-story-2018-olympics-destroyer-cyberattack/

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  • Scott
  • 10-11-2019

An important expose - well researched, frightening & prescient.

This is a supremely important expose of the development, use and effects of state-sponsored computer hacking as warfare - initially Russian in Ukraine, and now while still primarily by Russia, carried out be other nations including the US. As the US still steadfastly refuses to promote international, Geneva-style sanctions on these immensely dangerous and potentially catastrophic crimes (because such limitations would limit US offensive opportunity) I am reminded of the opposition John Kennedy faced from his Joint Chiefs when he attempted to work with Khrushchev to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons, advocating instead for a nuclear first strike, claiming that while the US might lose 30 million people, we’d ultimately win because the USSR would lose more. This book is a prescient warning and analysis - at a time where we still have the opportunity to advocate a change in course.

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  • Michael Wharton
  • 23-02-2020

Trump bashing book - Author is Russian Agent

Andy shows how he is an idiot. Author and Russian KGB misinformation are the same. If he left the politics out of the book and maintained the facts about Sandworm, it would have been a good book. However, he misses a lot of concepts. Such as Hillary Clinton's email server in Ukraine. Perhaps the reason for email server in Ukraine is to send secret messages to Russia. And Hillary Clinton and Uranium One deal with Russia. Wow. Author missed those connections to Hillary and Obama.
Russia tempering with America vote is about as bad as this book, CNN and comedians spewing out misinformation about Trump. Andy grow up.

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  • TJ
  • 03-12-2019

Riveting Revelation

Global codex, keys to the kingdom, comfort or paranoia, offense or defense...you pick. The revelation of this book, transcends everything we think we know about the grid. Are we moving headlong into a New Stone Age, perhaps. I now see my computer and access to the globe in light or not so light. Next time you see me I’ll be.......end of line.

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  • saidshe
  • 12-02-2020

Listening a second time.

I restarted the book from the beginning as soon as I finished it the first time. On the second listen I was better with tracking the dates & main characters. The writing is as smooth as the voiceover & I've rarely found that to be true. Especially with non-fiction. The author reveals shocking details that I can't believe the general public isn't aware of. We should all know what's coming.
If you're easily frightened about doomsday scenarios, you won't care for this book.
I can't fathom that any human being could find out this much info, weave it together a great narrative & turn it into a great book.

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  • 1337reviewer
  • 24-01-2020

Thrilling. True. Currently on-going .

Very much worth listening to, especially by members of the infosec community at Silicon Valley companies. The narrator is earnest and there are slight technical inaccuracies but this is because it is a complex topic and the author, coming from outside the field, did his honest best. Any minor confusion or incorrect descriptions is minor and does not detract from the narrative: a real-life spy thriller that’s happening •today•.

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  • Roger R.
  • 02-12-2019

How hacking has become the new war front

The author is well researched and so how cyber warfare has progressed. Also found that while the Russian GRU is a big problem. the US government is not with out it's issues.

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  • TF
  • 23-11-2019

Excellent

I really enjoyed this book. Thoroughly researched, the book introduces the theme which the overall book is built on and breaks it down into a handful of incident related stories that make for really easy reading, at least for those who have even the most basic knowledge of cyber attacks or even an interest in online security. In short, the author does a fantastic job of turning what could be, and is often done so in similar books on the topic, really esoteric information laid out page after page into a fast paced read. If you have any idea of or have read about Stuxnet, this book will 100% appeal to you.

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  • P porter
  • 29-03-2020

Fascinating.

To good to be a true. Knowing little about IT with a strong appetite to learn more; this story gets me excited and a little spooked. It helps that the voice narrative is easy on the ears.

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  • Jeep Keyser
  • 28-03-2020

Extensive research pays off

I was very impressed with Andy Greenberg‘s research on the subject of cyber warfare. He traveled the world to talk directly to people with first-hand knowledge of the events written in this book. These events are real, but very poorly covered by the main stream media in the United States. This book should actually be read (or listen to) by anybody and everybody that is a citizen on this planet. It is entertaining eye-opening and inspirational.

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  • IanRobinson
  • 07-12-2019

Everyone should listen to this. It's exceptional.

We hear a lot about how state actors are using cybercrime techniques in order to influence opinion and attack infrastructure in other countries. But we rarely see a well-argued analysis that backs up this assertion. This book provides just such a well-argued analysis that outlines persuasively which organisations, and which country, were behind the devastating cyberattacks WannaCry, NotPetya, and others. And it outlines who is gaining malicious access to the control systems for the infrastructure that powers our modern world. Such as the electricity generation and supply systems, transport systems, communications and broadcast systems, and other industrial control systems. It also provides enough evidence to support the conclusion that the same, or closely associated, malicious actors were behind attempts to influence elections in Europe and the USA. Probably in other countries as well.

The case against the perpetrators, who are identified in the book, is built up logically and comprehensively. Everyone should read it and then draw their own conclusions. I know I have. One of the best books of 2019. Undoubtedly the best on cybersecurity. The audiobook version is very good indeed.

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  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 15-01-2020

Highly recommended

A well written and very well narrated book on state sponsored hacking and cyber warfare, alerting readers for the already is a new reality, with cyber attacks against infrastructure and general unpreparedness for what that entails.
The subject is interesting, it's becoming ever more relevant, it is treated with knowledge and perspective and it is thus highly recommendable.