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Nicole Perlroth in conversation with David Sanger

February 10, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PST

discussing Nicole Perlroth’s new book

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyber Weapons Arms Race

Published by Bloomsbury Books

This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


Event is free, but registration is required.

(Click Here) to register. (link to be posted soon)


(Click Here) to purchase book. (link to be posted soon)


From The New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth, the untold story of the cyberweapons market-the most secretive, invisible, 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.

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 studiosbanks 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, will publish in 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.

David E. Sanger is a national security correspondent and a senior writer. In a 36-year reporting career for The New York Times, he has been on three teams that have won Pulitzer Prizes, most recently in 2017 for international reporting. His newest book, “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age,’ examines the emergence of cyberconflict as the primary way large and small states are competing and undercutting each other, changing the nature of global power.

Critical praise for This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends

“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 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”

“Perlroth’s terrifying revelation of how vulnerable American institutions and individuals are to clandestine cyberattacks by malicious hackers is 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. Nicole Perlroth connects the dots and the behind the scenes action of every serious intrusion, cyberattack and cyberespionage revelation in the last decade, offering recommendations for stopping the cyberwar none of us want to see.” –  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

“Usually, books like this are praised by saying that they read like a screenplay or a novel. Nicole Perlroth’s is better: her sensitivity to both technical issues and human behavior give this book an authenticity that makes its message–that cybersecurity issues threaten our privacy, our economy, and maybe our lives–even scarier.” –  Steven Levy, author of HACKERS and FACEBOOK

“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, Vanity Fair, author of AMERICAN KINGPIN

“An essential cautionary tale [that] exposes the motivations and misgivings of the people helping governments hack into our devices. 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

“Nicole Perlroth does what few other authors on the cyber beat can: she tells a highly technical, gripping story as if over a beer at your favorite local dive bar. A page-turner.” –  Nina Jankowicz, author of HOW TO LOSE THE INFORMATION WAR

“[A] wonderfully readable new book. Underlying everything Perlroth writes is the question of ethics: what is the right thing to do? Too many of the people she describes never seemed to think about that; their goals were short-term or selfish or both . . . 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

“From one of the literati, a compelling tale of the digerati: Nicole Perlroth puts arresting faces on the clandestine government-sponsored elites using 1s and 0s to protect us or menace us-and profit.” –  Glenn Kramon, former senior editor, The New York Times

“The murky world of zero-day sales has remained in the shadows for decades, with few in the trade willing to talk about this critical topic. Nicole Perlroth has done a great job tracing the origin stories, coaxing practitioners into telling their fascinating tales and explaining why it all matters.” –  Kim Zetter, author of COUNTDOWN TO ZERODAY

“Reads like a thriller. A masterful inside look at a highly profitable industry that was supposed to make us safer, but has ended up bringing us to the brink of the next world war.” –  John Markoff, former New York Times cybersecurity reporter

“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

“Lays bare the stark realities of disinformation, hacking, and software vulnerability that are the Achilles’ Heel of modern democracy. I work in this field as a scientist and technologist, and this book scared the bejesus out of me. Read it.” –  Gary McGraw, author of SOFTWARE SECURITY

“A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.” –  Kirkus Reviews


February 10, 2021
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PST
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