Book – Sandworm

Steve Taylor-Bryant read the snappily titled non-fiction book Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg...

I have a fascination with all things cyber despite being computer illiterate. I am one of those middle aged men who have to seek advice from their kids when something needs uploading or changing or anything really, but the ideas behind the internet, the creation of software, of hacking tools, of Tor, and the involvement of government agencies around the globe, just seem to get their hooks into my mind. I love to consume all the great non-fiction books there are on the people and actions that have happened since the advent of modern computing. One of the greatest books I have read over the years is This Machine Kills Secrets by Wired reporter Andy Greenberg. This Machine explained computing and hacking and secrecy from the very beginning of computer related files. It spoke to those involved in both sides of the secrecy argument, those who were at the coal face of the technology and software that brought the era of the computers to the mass level they are at now, and he interspersed the technical with the political and gave commentary stances to political figures and the likes of the worlds most famous leaker, Daniel Elsberg. This Machine Kills Secrets was a superb book and one that gets an annual re-read, but once you’ve gone from the invention of a microchip to Wikileaks where else is there to explore? It turns out you face east and take on Russia.

Sandworm was the name given to a group of rogue hackers due to references from the Frank Herbert’s Dune hidden within the coding and, whilst this could have been a book just analysing the code that shut down just about everything involved in the Ukrainian economy, what Greenberg did was deep dive into the political effects of computer hacking and took a personal look at the effects of cyberwar on the country, companies, and people victimised by the faceless online terrorists. Whilst all of this could have been a dense technical jargon-filled nightmare for a novice, Greenberg cleverly used common analogies and a layman’s style of writing to be as inclusive as he could be to a much wider audience than maybe a book like this usually gets. It's important to state that, because whilst this in indeed one the most fascinating investigations into cyberwarfare and the programs and coding involved with bringing the world to its knees, and there is a huge amount for coding fans to get their teeth into especially when Greenberg gets to Not-Petya, it is also a timely read now with Putin’s Russia on the verge of another attack both cyber and more traditional warfare strategies as his troops build up on the border of Ukraine and Greenberg spends a good amount of time in Sandworm exploring the Ukrainian people and the effect that the Russian aggression is having on them.

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers is an astonishing read. Andy Greenberg’s research and access to those people at the core of the stories is incredible and what could very well have been a PhD level textbook actually reads more like an espionage thriller and evokes emotions in the reader that you don’t usually get when talking about computers. Greenberg is by far my favourite author and journalist when it comes to this subject matter and, whilst my love for This Machine Kills Secrets is still massive, Sandworm is the pinnacle of cyber writing by an author without peer.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

Image - Amazon

Powered by Blogger.