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Departures Podcast with Nicole Perlroth, author of ‘This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race’

When a government wants to break into someone’s iPhone or Android device, there’s a marketplace where that kind of vulnerability hacking service is bought and sold – costing sometimes as much as $2.5 million. The very fact that such a marketplace exists for cyberwarfare is an illustration of the rapidly growing field of threats we face, and also a sign of how dramatically unprepared we are to defend against these attacks.

From the SolarWinds hack in 2020 which was one of the largest breaches of sensitive government data to the more recent attacks on small municipal water plants, utilities, and pipelines, there is an expanding intensity of the sophistication of cyber weapons and the United States is rapidly falling way behind the curve. Nicole Perlroth, the award-winning New York Times journalist, joins the podcast to discuss her excellent book, “This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race,” a stunning work of investigative journalism spanning seven years of detailed research and interviews.

According to Perlroth, the United States has an extremely soft underbelly of connected infrastructure which has profound exposures and no system of defense. Meanwhile, Russia is conducting targeted testing of its cyberwarfare tools all over the world, preparing for a future event. The NSA can perfect its offensive cyber-weaponry all it wants, she says, but currently there is still very little planning to prepare for the coming war.  Whether or not the United States will respond in time to these threats and develop defenses is going to have a major impact on our future security.