THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER of the 2021 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
“Part John le Carré and more parts Michael Crichton . . . spellbinding.” The New Yorker
"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 non-disclosure 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, The New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyber arms race to heel.
About the Author
Nicole Perlroth is an award-winning cybersecurity journalist for the New York Times, where her work has been optioned for both film and television. She is a regular lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford University. She lives with her family in the Bay Area, but increasingly prefers life off the grid in their cabin in the woods.
"An intricately detailed, deeply sourced and reported history of the origins and growth of the [cyberweapons] market and the global cyberweapons arms race it has sparked . . . This is no bloodless, just-the-facts chronicle. Written in the hot, propulsive prose of a spy thriller, Perlroth’s book sets out from the start to scare us out of our complacency." - Jonathan Tepperman, The New York Times
"The best kind of reportage . . . a rollicking fun trip, front to back, and an urgent call for action before our wired world spins out of our control. I've covered cybersecurity for a decade and yet paragraph after paragraph I kept wondering: 'How did she manage to figure *that* out? How is she so good?’ "- Garrett M. Graff, Wired, author of New York Times bestseller THE ONLY PLANE IN THE SKY
"A vivid and provocative chronicle of Perlroth’s travels through the netherworld of the global cyberweapons arms trade." - The New York Review of Books
"Told in an enthrallingly cinematic style . . . This is How They Tell Me the World Ends is a stark, necessary, thoroughly reported reminder that no matter how strong the safe is, there’ll always be someone who can come along and crack it." - LitHub
"A stemwinder of a tale of how frightening cyber weapons have been turned on their maker. Perlroth takes a complex subject that has been cloaked in techspeak and makes it dead real for the rest of us." - Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode and host of the New York Times podcast "Sway"
"An engaging and troubling account of ‘zero-day exploits’ . . . This secretive market is difficult to penetrate, but Ms. Perlroth has dug deeper than most and chronicles her efforts wittily." - The Economist
"Possibly the most important book of the year . . . Perlroth’s precise, lucid, and compelling presentation of mind-blowing disclosures about the underground arms race a must-read exposé." - Booklist, starred review
"The definitive history of cyberwarfare." - Clint Watts, author of MESSING WITH THE ENEMY
"A must-read tale of cloak-and-dagger mercenary hackers, digital weapons of mass destruction and clandestine, ne'er-do-well government agencies. Perlroth's intrepid reporting shows why the consequences could be frightening." - Lawrence Ingrassia, author of BILLION DOLLAR BRAND CLUB
"Will keep you up at night, both unable to stop reading, and terrified for what the future holds." - Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair, author of AMERICAN KINGPIN
"An essential cautionary tale. After Perlroth's incisive investigation, there's no excuse for ignoring the costs of the cyber arms race. Indeed, we are already deeply vulnerable." - Sarah Frier, Bloomberg, author of NO FILTER
"100% gripping. For anyone interested in cybersecurity, whether as student, policymaker, or citizen, it is well worth your read." - P.W. Singer, author of LIKEWAR
"[A] wonderfully readable new book . . . a rip-roaring story of hackers and bug-sellers and spies that also looks at the deeper questions." - Steven M. Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University
"A whirlwind global tour that introduces us to the crazy characters and bizarre stories behind the struggle to control the internet. It would be unbelievable if it wasn't all so very true." - Alex Stamos, Director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former head of security for Facebook and Yahoo
"A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights." - Kirkus Reviews
"[Perlroth] has delivered a five-alarm page turner that weighs the possibility of cyber-cataclysm." - The Boston Globe