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Summary

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.

"Much more than a true-life techno-thriller...a tour through a realm that is both invisible and critical to the daily lives of every person alive in the 21st century." (Los Angeles Times)

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

Winner of the Cornelius Ryan Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club of America

“As Russia has attacked, Greenberg has not been far behind, reporting on these incursions in Wired while searching for their perpetrators. Like the best true-crime writing, his narrative is both perversely entertaining and terrifying.” (New York Review of Books

“Immensely readable.... A hair-raising, cautionary tale about the burgeoning, post-Stuxnet world of state-sponsored hackers.... Greenberg lays out in chilling detail how future wars will be waged in cyberspace and makes the case that we have done little, as of yet, to prevent it.” (Washington Post

"[A] chilling account of a Kremlin-led cyber attack, a new front in global conflict." (Financial Times)

What listeners say about Sandworm

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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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A must for anyone in the cybersecurity arena

A must for anyone in the cybersecurity arena, excellent background and details to help understand the current situation.

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Solid rather than entertaining

A really good overview with lots of fascinating detail. Despite the high drama of many of the events, this is more a solid description of them than something with the narrative drama of a well-written thriller.

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An interesting listen for anyone

I work in the IT industry and was recommended this book but told it would be if interest anyone, even without any technical background. To a large part, I agree, the level of information and research that has gone into writing this book is staggering. Far beyond the world of IT, the background on international conflict and competition paints a complete picture that is both disturbing and thought provoking. the narration too was spot on and dragged me into the book. I'll definitely be listening to this one again and wouldn't hesitate recommending it as a great listen.

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Well worth a listen if you work in CyberSecurity

Great story as it described how some very large impacting security events unfolded, where they originated from and the drivers behind them.

This is an evolving space that will impact more and more people in the future.

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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.

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Great Listen

Very interesting and in depth. Thoroughly enjoyed the political ties and the was a real eye opener how exposed our industries might
be!

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Repetitive and rather sterile

I really struggled with this one. The author does his best to inject excitement, but I found things pretty monotonous.

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Non fiction written like a fitxing book

The way this book is written makes you want to continue to read to know what's next. Multiple times, I've been wondering whether all of this has been real.

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Thoroughly enjoyable book

Fantastic. Well read griping narrative from start to finish. Absolute "page turner" couldn't stop listening.

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  • ndru1
  • 12-11-19

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/

18 people found this helpful

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  • Scott
  • 10-11-19

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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • saidshe
  • 12-02-20

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • TJ
  • 03-12-19

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • 1337reviewer
  • 24-01-20

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•.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Curtiss J.
  • 12-01-20

Fascinating & Frightening!

You don’t have to be a computer nerd to easily follow along and see the profound implications the subject of this book has had in ALL our lives in the past decade or two and what we may be in store for in the near future. Fascinating and frightening.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Roger R.
  • 02-12-19

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • stan
  • 29-08-21

Very Informative & well researched

The author obviously hates Trump and should have kept his politics out of the book

5 people found this helpful

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  • TF
  • 23-11-19

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Krmartin
  • 27-05-21

Important and Compelling...But...

Incredibly important work. Great detail. Unfortunately, I once again find the authors credibility damaged by the petty and utterly ridiculous partisan attacks. Obama watches the first Ukrainian attack and failed in every way to counter this threat, unleashed his own uncontrollable cyber warfare, likely ignored NK hacking, did nothing to the Russians as they hacked the DNC (until 12/2015) - just to name a few of the failings of those EIGHT years. But Trump? Well, the author makes fun of Trump’s technological skills (no proof), brings up unproven, debunked Russian gate and spends way too much time holding Trump to a standard that apparently only applies to conservatives/Trump. The author sounds like another frustrated anti-Trump hater who gives Obama a pass for outrageous failings while trashing Trump. I think this is an important book. I am no partisan Trump fan. But the treatment of Trump compared to Obama is ridiculous. Eight years - Obama did nothing. Gross negligence. Time for liberal authors to grow up.

3 people found this helpful