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
    193
  • 4 Stars
    59
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    148
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    11
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    178
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

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

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • 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.

9 people found this helpful

  • 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!

3 people found this helpful

  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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

An excellent insight into cyber hacking!

I finished this last night, and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in cyber security. In fact, I'd recommend it to everyone as essential reading! I guarantee you WILL be interested in cyber security by the time you finish the book.

It's an enthralling history and commentary on the history of cyber hacking and how software 'Zero Days' have been used and abused by intelligence agencies and others across the globe throughout the rise of the internet, right up to present day (or early 2021 when it was published).

The chapters dealing with Russia's cyber-attacks against the Ukraine from 2017 onwards take on additional weight in light of the invasion earlier this year.

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

Great book let down by sloppy narration

Nicole Perlroth's account of the world ofcyberweapons is as gripping as a thriller and as terrifying as a Stephen King novel. It's written in a lively style that is authoritative, well informed, and often very funny. It's won awards, and deservedly so. Its origins in shorter pieces of journalism are evident in both positive and negative ways - positive in that each chapter is written in easily digestible chunks that convey clear information and have well drawn portraits of the key players, and slightly negative in the sense that there's a bit of repetition (an anecdote about how Microsoft "got their shit together" is repeated almost verbatim, for example) - stronger editing would have helped. But with that minor proviso, this is an important book that explains a complex area very well.

As other reviewers have noted, however, the book is let down by a very poor standard of narration. Although the narrator delivers the text clearly, there are a lot of errors in pronunciation (the maddeningly distracting "Kreev" for Kiev has been pointed out by other reviewers). There's also a surprisingly large number of misreadings - community for communist, disposed for deposed. and others. Audiobooks do cost a lot of money and I feel we should expect that narrators would (a) take the time to find out how to pronounce unfamiliar words and that (b) when they make mistakes producers will catch them and fix them. Not good enough really. So I'd certainly recommend the printed book but would be slow to recommend the audiobook.

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

A must to hear

I'm working in the field and this book gives an accurate picture of it. loved the narrators voice.

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

Truly awful narration

Sounded like Siri trying to read to me. The intonation was all wrong, making it very hard to listen to. Bizarre pronunciations of words like Qatar and Renault.

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

Poor reading.

The narrator has a dull, unpleasant voice and doesn’t seem to understand what she’s reading, rendering some fantastic journalism a little underpowered by voice. She sounds like a weather person.

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

Awful narration, great book

This book is excellent but the narration is painfully awful. The narrator seems to be unaware of, or oblivious to, the purpose of punctuation. An AI would have done a better job and could would have sounded more engaged. I persisted though as the book is that good.

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

Fascinating, brilliant, and terrifying

From how hacking went from underground pastime to big business, through the ins, outs, and mind-boggling scale of international cyber warfare, to what we can do to protect ourselves as individuals, this is an incredible, insightful look at how the holes in the technology the world relies on affects us all and the subsequent staggering implications of the reliance on such vulnerable technology.

Excellently researched, written, and narrated, this is an important book that sheds light on an invisible world that we all live in, whether we realise it or not.

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
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ben Vella
  • Ben Vella
  • 16-04-22

Cyber and its impact

Interesting immersion into governments and the development of the unruly world of cyber attacks and how it is continuing to evolve. Further personalised by stories and impact it has on our lives.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for CATHERINE
  • CATHERINE
  • 01-03-22

Phenomenal book on cyberwarfare

Truly a page turner on a very complicated topic. Outstanding writing and narration.

This is one of those books whereafter you think: how on earth is nobody talking about this (cyberwarfare)?

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Saleh
  • Saleh
  • 27-02-22

Great book

The book is great. But i wish if the audio editor removed the breathing between sentences.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lance Vanderhaven
  • Lance Vanderhaven
  • 27-02-22

Biased

This book is more propaganda than professional reporting. It starts off with Russia hacking the 2016 election. Interesting but very biased.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 20-02-22

Just thank you

Just thank you for writing this book it brinks things in to interesting context. And I'm afraid soon the storm is coming...

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Yaroslav Osadchiy
  • Yaroslav Osadchiy
  • 13-01-22

Very biased, not a professional journalism

Very biased, more like propaganda than a professional journalism
Very interesting topic and many interesting questions raised. But the information and data are presented in a very biased and twisted way. Russia and China are presented as world evil while US state institutions who spend the most of money in the world on buying hackers exploits and using them to survey the world's leaders including US ally’s, destroy countries’ economies (eg Irak) and organize revolts all over the world (eg Livia, Georgia, Ukraine, etc). Some why in these spy games US state is presented as a white warrior for worlds peace and democracy.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John
  • John
  • 24-12-21

Insightful for our digital age

A great read for our times. A few words with strange pronunciations, but so few as to not detract from the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dave McG
  • Dave McG
  • 23-09-21

Just read this okay?

This book is so well positioned to imform you a citizen of the internet on what is happening in the shadows. You know the sketchy side of town but you don’t know the sketchy side of the internet you spend your life here too.

  • 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