I would be remiss to let this SolarWinds story go without commenting and self-promoting my cyberwar series. These opportunities don’t come around every day. Well, actually there is a story just about every day, but few on par with the colorful intrigue of SolarWinds, FireEye, and Cozy Bear.
My favorite aspect to this story is how it more resembles cyberwar than cybercrime. Experts are downplaying the cyberwar facets, but espionage is on the war spectrum. I focused my novels on cyberwar to respond to what I perceived as a dearth of stories because most books published on the topic are on cybercrime. The difference is that cyberwar is acted out by nation states and, North Korea’s Lazarus notwithstanding, for non-financial reasons.
Remember when you used to read stories of thieves stealing money from banks? Two decades deep into the 4th generation of the industrial revolution (4IR), data is the new currency. Steam power dramatically increased productivity three hundred years ago in 1IR as the industrial revolution launched a still-accelerating advance in technology. Steam locomotives shrunk distance in terms of time travel.
Electricity further accelerated productivity, making the work day longer, in 2IR. The 3rd industrial revolution commenced in the fifties, around the time white collar workers exceeded blue collar workers in the US work force. Compute tech put the world on an exponential growth rate in the Information Age.
Data networking, namely the Internet, and everything since from AI to blockchain has established a digital economy that drives 4IR. We have complete industries now that exist only online. But our success is our weakness. The leading, most advanced economies of the world have more to lose in a cyberwar than the digital have-nots. And that’s why so many people believe the next world war will be digital. It’s where we are vulnerable, our Achilles heel.
Here’s the promo part. If you are curious enough to read up on all this tech, but find it all just a bit too dry for your taste – read my books. Read fiction. I wrote my cyberwar series partly as a cybersecurity primer, so you’ll learn something. But I chose a fictional format to make the content entertaining. You don’t need a text book when you’ve got Cyber War I and Full Spectrum Cyberwar on your shelf.
You’ll discover that my stories are fairly prescient. The first made Iran the bad guys and had attacks like this supply chain malware that compromise a large segment of the economy. The second story focused on Russia and might spook you just how closely it mirrors current events.
The Russian threat actors in Full Spectrum work for the GRU – Russia’s Military Intelligence. I considered writing about the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence agency behind the SolarWinds hack. I find one of their code names more literary – Cozy Bear. The GRU is nicknamed Fancy Bear, which is still cool; Bear of course stands for Russia.
I felt forced to use Fancy Bear because it’s more plausible they would launch the type of attacks in my story. Cozy Bear is more about intel gathering. This is why some experts are suggesting this isn’t a cyberwar attack. Cozy Bear doesn’t destroy systems. They just listen to our secrets. That doesn’t make for as fun a story as the mayhem in Full Spectrum. Sometimes I choose plausibility when deciding my storyline. Other times I take extreme liberties for a good story.