Thoughts on Sandworm

“It’s clear where the world is going. We’re entering a world where every thermostat, every electrical heater, every air conditioner, every power plant, every medical device, every hospital, every traffic light, every automobile will be connected to the Internet. Think about what it will mean for the world when those devices are the subject of attack.” Then he made his pitch. “The world needs a new, digital Geneva Convention.”

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers

Early in February 2020, Kenneth Daniel and I attended a senate hearing in the Philippines concerning the country’s power grid vulnerability to cyberattacks. We even wrote an opinion about it which you can read here.

During the senate hearing, the hack on Ukraine’s power grid last 2016 became exhibit A. For me, the digital realm affecting the physical world seems a science fiction not until I started to dig more in-depth about the incident that happened in Ukraine. As I continued my search, one article to the next eventually led me to the book Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg.

Even in the first few pages of the book, I began to see another side of how the Ukraine power grid was hacked. One that an ordinary civilian doesn’t seem to care at all. If you live in the Philippines, most Filipinos spend their time on the internet at an average of 9 hours and 45 minutes. Globally, the Philippines ranked the highest in time spent over the internet as of 2020according to We are Social. With this in mind, I can’t help but think how ignorant we are about what’s going on in the other parts of the internet. It’s not just about entertainment out there. There’s also a battlefield.

Not knowing about the things I should’ve learned scared me. But the good thing is, the book made me understand the importance of cybersecurity as we shift to a digitally-dependent world. As the space between the digital and the physical is starting to blur, we need to not just think about preventive measures. We also need to work on resilience.

A digital attack not only manipulates public and private information but can now damage critical infrastructures like power grids, hospitals, ATMs, and basically everything connected to the internet.

So why should you read this book?

Simple. You need to know that cyberwar is not just about the government, the private sector, or the military. This is about you too. Since there are no borders on the internet, you are also on the battlefield.

Source of the book cover image for Sandworm can be found here.

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