This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends - Nicole Perlroth

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends

By Nicole Perlroth

  • Release Date: 2021-02-09
  • Genre: Political Science
Score: 4.5
From 116 Ratings


THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * Winner of the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award * Bronze Medal, Arthur Ross Book Award (Council on Foreign Relations)

"Written in the hot, propulsive prose of a spy thriller" (The New York Times), the untold story of the cyberweapons market-the most secretive, government-backed market on earth-and a terrifying first look at a new kind of global warfare.

Zero-day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero-day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid (just ask Ukraine).

For decades, under cover of classification levels and nondisclosure agreements, the United States government became the world's dominant hoarder of zero-days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar-first thousands, and later millions of dollars-to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence. Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market. Now those zero-days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down.

Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyberarms race to heel.


  • The most important book I’ve read in years

    By dbeach
    This not fiction. This is truly frightening. Our interconnection via the Internet may well be our undoing. The evidence of data exploits being created around the world is overwhelming. “Just one mistake” could set it all off: election results, power grid control, banking systems, hospitals and emergency services, entire sections of the country and world’s infrastructure could, and have been threatened or destroyed. If you extrapolate all this - and the book ends in early 2021 - to upcoming elections and beyond, and to relations with other countries (think Iran, China, Russia) it is hard to believe that we are not in for cataclysmic events caused by disruption to computers systems upon which the world increasingly relies. And the indictment, in this book, of our national leaders in recent years, shows how politics and public sentiment have been manipulated, and threaten us all. Fascinating, powerful and exceedingly well written and documented.
  • Must read

    By Holly Godhi
    Excellent and well researched. Good for lay people who need their hand held to understand the complex nature of vulnerability exploitation. As a student of information security this book has blazed a trail for me. If you needed some direction to decide what side of the tracks you need to be on this work will help. I encourage anyone interested in national security, intelligence, counterintelligence, and politics to inform yourself on the nature of the battlefield of the future that is ALREADY here. I also strongly encourage lawmakers who wish to seriously solve the cyberwarfare dilemma in a time of escalation with Americas adversaries, to take a serious look at the issues clearly laid out in this book. We are alot closer to midnight than we think (personal opinion). It's time to recognize that accountability is only useful when you have a properly functioning system that was mismanaged. We as a nation dont even have the most rudimentary understanding of what that system should even look like! When you calculate how much money warfare costs for our adversaries. The cost of paying hackers to find invisible doors to code around our firewalls is chump change. We foolishly, hurriedly connected everything we could to the internet with millions of software programs that have dozens of exploitable zero days each. To solve the problem, It's not how much money you have. It's how many hackers you can find to fend off the bad guys. America will need alot of good ethical hackers and a solid game plan to work our way out of this massive security oversight and screwup... I may just be a Jarhead but national security is in my blood. I believe this country minus a few unsung heroes is practically flying blind. I'm glad I bought this book.
  • Superficial and one-sided

    By sverker21
    The author provided a superficial overview of the technology and a one-sided explanation of events. Much of the book devolved into a hectoring editorial that overwhelmed the good sections of the story. The author would have benefited from a more balanced narration of events. If you are interested in this topic, “Sandworm” by Andy Greenberg and “Countdown to Zero Day” by Kim Zetter are both more balanced, more informative and provide better explanations of the technologies.
  • A waste

    By JohnnyVonRotten
    Ultimately, I would suggest reading Thomas Dullien’s review in blog post for more thorough thoughts, but in addition to other items I had, there are a number of factual inaccuracies here about technical matters (for which the writer herself later tweeted that Dullien had a “bruised male ego” for his criticism). But I actually read this before I found that review and in addition to any of that... I’m really sick of these sort of tech culture writers releasing something that’s really more about them than the advertised subject matter. It just reeks of vanity. I would recommend Andy Greenberg’s “Sandworm” instead.