For years, cybersecurity experts have debated whether cyber-weapons represent a destabilizing new military technology or merely the newest tool in the spy’s arsenal. In This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends (Bloomsbury, 2021), Nicole Perlroth argues that the digital arms race is quickly spiraling out of control. Worse, the United States set us down the precarious path we’re now on.
A cybersecurity reporter at the New York Times, Nicole makes her case by taking us on a journey from the shadowy underworld of the cyber arms market, to Silicon Valley, the White House, and the NSA’s elite offensive hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations. On this episode, I talk to Nicole about the nature of the cyber arms underground, why the NSA has traditionally favored offense over defense, and why no one—not Congress and not the public—seems to understand the gravity of the threat posed by digital weapons.
We wrap up with a story sure to interest the whole NBN community: someone—we’re not sure who yet—is hacking authors’ email accounts and stealing their manuscripts.
John Sakellariadis is a 2020-2021 Fulbright US Student Research Grantee. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree in History & Literature from Harvard University.