Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £19.99

Buy Now for £19.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

Bloomsbury presents This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth, read by Allyson Ryan.

Zero day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break in and scamper through the world’s computer networks invisibly until discovered. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero day has the power to tap into any iPhone, dismantle safety controls at a chemical plant and shut down the power in an entire nation - just ask the Ukraine.

Zero days are the blood diamonds of the security trade, pursued by nation states, defence contractors, cybercriminals and security defenders alike. In this market, governments aren’t regulators; they are clients - paying huge sums to hackers willing to turn over gaps in the internet and stay silent about them. 

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth’s discovery, unpacked. A intrepid journalist unravels an opaque, code-driven market from the outside in - encountering spies, hackers, arms dealers, mercenaries and a few unsung heroes along the way. As the stakes get higher and higher in the rush to push the world’s critical infrastructure online, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is the urgent and alarming discovery of one of the world’s most extreme threats.

©2021 Nicole Perlroth (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"Reads like a modern-day John le Carré novel, with terrifying tales of espionage and cyber warfare that will keep you up at night, both unable to stop reading, and terrified for what the future holds." (Nick Bilton, author of American Kingpin)

"A stemwinder of a tale of how frightening cyber weapons have been turned on their maker, and the implications for the world when everyone and anyone can now decimate everyone else with a click of a mouse.... Perlroth takes a complex subject that has been cloaked in opaque techspeak and makes it dead real for the rest of us. You will not look at your mobile phone, your search engine, even your networked thermostat the same way again." (Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode and New York Times opinion writer)

"Nicole Perlroth has written a dazzling and revelatory history of the darkest corner of the internet, where hackers and governments secretly trade the tools of the next war.... This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is 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, author of The Only Plane in the Sky)

What listeners say about This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    42
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Remarkable insights into a secret and deadly world

Journalists come in for a lot of criticism, much of it deserved. However, books like this should remind us how important and valuable good journalists are. This story needed to be told and it took the drive and persistence of a very talented, intelligent and brave woman to do it. Nicole Perlroth makes this complex and highly technical world accessible to the public. It shines a light on the very dangerous underbelly of the Internet, which is driven by greed, fear and political ambition. What struck me most was how the public and a country’s infrastructure has become the battlefield and how everyone in the world is likely to be a victim or casualty one day. I really hope that this book is widely read and pressure is put on leaders around the world to restore some sanity before real disaster strikes. Everyone should read this book if they want to understand how the world could end!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I still don't know how the world ends

It's a great title and, bottom line: it's really worth listening to and the narrator is great, playing the roll of tough female investigator in a male world. Yet it suffers from not being edited harder and not developing its story to its full potential. But - full disclosure - I found I edited it quite well by falling asleep in the many repetitive sections. That did it no end of good because the bits I did take in gave me information that everyone should know and add to our big list of things that are going to destroy us. This was never explicitly spelt out, unless I missed it when I was unconscious, but I think what is implied is that some idiot will hack a control system that ACCIDENTALLY starts a nuclear war. Of all the things that will cause the apocalypse CARELESSNESS like that seems to me to be the most plausible human foible to finish us all. It’s a close race though between that and global warming, artificial intelligence and intentional war, though really what is the point of betting on which threat will get us first when there will be no one here to pay out or collect?
So anyway you will learn the idea of ‘Zero Days’ – the point at which software is released to the public (day zero) that has become a pseudonym with the most vulnerable time in the life cycle of software as that is when it hasn’t been publicly tested by a wider world than just the nerd centre that made it and when there are therefore potentially the most undiscovered bugs, or more accurately sections of weak code, that can be exploited. Somehow the term Zero Days has now also mutated into a name for a vulnerable piece of code, a phrase has become a noun, and so there are obviously Zero Days within language itself too, but that’s by the by. You will learn that one common way that software vulnerabilities are exploited is to rewrite little bits of code within software updates - you know the ones we are always being asked to install to make the software better, which is ironic to say the least. And, blow me, the people, the hackers, that can find and exploit these Zero Days can get paid for them handsomely, both so they can be fixed or weaponised, according to which side of the evil equation you are on. Who knew that governments would like to use them as weapons against other governments? There then follows many chapters in which we hear examples of various people selling various Zero Days for various large amounts of money, but essentially it’s just the same thing and the story never develops.
The level at which the information is tackled is pretty superficial at times and a bit suspect in terms of journalistic rigour. For a start Martin Luther King is credited with the brilliant saying ‘ An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’ when a simple search on Google will confirm that it is a quote generally attributed to Gandhi about thirty years earlier. This level of checking also applies to the story of Stuxnet – the software that was supposed to have brought down the Iranian nuclear programme. I have read about code breakers in Bletchley Park that managed to keep their work secret for over sixty years - so if it is public knowledge, and Stuxnet was general knowledge about a couple of years after its supposed use, somebody probably wants you to know about it or wants you to think you know about it. Stuxnet was a bit of incredibly short code that infected many computerised controllers – not only in Iran, but all over the Middle East and central Asia pretty much simultaneously. It could be that Iran’s anti-virus software just wasn’t as good as other countries and that it wasn’t directly targeted at all. Also it was supposed to have lain dormant and switched itself on at the right moment and off when being scrutinised – very complex things to do with just about 500k of code – is it really possible? – what are the code size vs. complexity of behaviour limits? The author doesn’t know or discuss such theoretical computing concepts, and so misses another important line of evidence. Also it’s reported that 2000 of 70,000 centrifuges were disabled – or 68,000 were still in action – enough to do the job of uranium purification, with only a minor inconvenience one would have thought. It’s not that I am a conspiracy theorist; I don’t think I am anyway, and besides the conventional view of Stuxnet sounds like it could itself stem from conspiracy theory or at least ‘to good to be true’ theory. It’s just that a book of this length demands detailed rigour and we don’t get it.
Most of all I would have liked this book to gradually focus on the possibility of the accidental detonation of nuclear weapons – something it is surely vital to understand for the whole world’s safety, and giving it that much missed story development - but it never delivers on its title – only goes on about the many ways in which people will try to profit from other people’s mistakes. We know. Even so it causes you to think about all the things I've mentioned, which is why it’s well worth listening.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

From Zero Day Brokers to Trump's impeachment....

this book has everything. You don't need a degree in infosec to enjoy it either! The author offers some insight into many of the major attacks over the last decade and moves swiftly into silicone valley without losing sight of the power play between Nation States, with a sobering final chapter which helps the book live up to its title. First class narration too.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another Piece Of The Jigsaw

If you're at all interested in how the world works and who deals with who then this is essential listening. It's as much a global politics book as it is a warning about cyber security and our safety in a future where everything is connected.
The book is a post Snowdon milestone, one that can and should be referenced in 10 years time just to keep track of how things have moved on.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrifyingly informative!

The pace, the detail, the plain language, the courage. All make for a very compelling read!
Salute to Nicole and her team!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good history of cyber warfare with context

Very good but for more technical view read Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers by Andy Greenberg.

thx to Jack Rhysider from Darknet diaries for recommending

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredibly engrossing

Loved the whole book, all 18 hours of it! Great narration - perfect pitch and intonation.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Brilliant shocking story.

Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or. PC ought to hear this book. The history of hacking is researched with great skill. I knew nothing about Zero Days and the marketing of these products. The whole world of cyber war is covered in wonderful detail. Very worrying , it's a story still unfolding. The narrator was a perfect choice.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Well-researched and insightful but unnecessarily long

As someone with little knowledge of the field, I found this book thorough, well-researched and insightful. It provides a great tale of the people involved, their motives, and how the unwillingness of corporations and governments to consider the longer term consequences of their actions has led us to our current situation. However, I agree with other reviewers that it could be much shorter. The last few hours in particular felt highly repetitive - driving home the message with very little new information. I also found her judgments throughout about which nations are good or bad somewhat frustrating as she is coming from a fully American perspective. Listeners from elsewhere (like myself) might have are more nuanced view of good guys vs bad guys.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, QA issues

Great book, really well read, with a few pronunciation things that bothered me, but nothing I couldn't get over. You can't expect every actor to be able to pronounce every word just right, especially place names, but surely someone from audible is checking stuff like that?

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew A. Hayes
  • Matthew A. Hayes
  • 25-03-21

Excellent book. Highly recommended.

The book is excellent, but there are problems with the audio. The final chapter repeats 2x. The narrator has to learn how to pronounce key words like Kyiv. But those audio issues aside. This is a must read/listen.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anders
  • Anders
  • 22-08-21

Awesome!

Awesome book! That goes well with many other spy books like: Cult of the Dead Cow By cover art
Cult of the Dead Cow or The Art of Invisibility

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ivan
  • Ivan
  • 29-05-21

Great book, a must read for any who is in Cyber

I loved it and she explains really well how cybersecurity issues can now change the way our real world works or should work, from cyber warfare to espionage and terrorism.

it shows how the underbelly of cyber works and some things that the ones that are on cyber have sometimes difficulties explaining in plain English to the rest.

Love the book and anyone should read it so you will understand and start to protect your accounts.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lars
  • Lars
  • 23-05-21

cyber War

Gripping story. Well told and pleasant narration. Really enjoyed it though let me wonder what security I had left.