The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Nicole Perlroth covers cybersecurity and digital espionage for The New York Times. She has covered Russian hacks of nuclear plants, airports, and elections, North Korea's cyberattacks against movie studios, banks and hospitals, Iranian attacks on oil companies, banks and the Trump campaign and hundreds of Chinese cyberattacks, including a months-long hack of The Times. Her first book, “This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends,” about the global cyber arms race, published February 2021. The book, and several of her Times articles, have been optioned for television.
A Bay Area native, Ms. Perlroth is a guest lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford University.
Bloomsbury presents This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth.
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. US 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.