Click here to Download This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book by Nicole Perlroth Language English having PDF Size 5.5 MB and No of Pages 656.
I was still covered in dust when my editors told me to surrender my devices, take an oath of silence, and step into Arthur Sulzberger’s storage closet in July of 2013. Just days earlier I’d been driving across the Maasai Mara in an open jeep, wrapping up a three-week trek across Kenya. I had hoped a few weeks off the grid would help repair nerves frayed by two years covering cyberterrorism.
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book by Nicole Perlroth
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My sources kept insisting that this was just the beginning—that things would only get worse. I was only thirty then, but already felt the immense burden of my assigned subject. When I got the call to join the New York Times in 2010, I was writing magazine cover stories from Silicon Valley about venture capitalists who, by sheer luck or skill, had invested early in Facebook, Instagram, and Uber.
And were now all too aware of their celebrity status. The Times had caught notice and was interested in hiring me, only for a different beat. “You’re the Times,” I told them. “I’ll cover anything you want me to cover. How bad could it be?” When they told me they were considering me for the cybersecurity beat, I was sure they were joking.
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Not only did I not know anything about cybersecurity, I had actively gone out of my way to not know anything about cybersecurity. Surely they could find cybersecurity reporters who were more qualified. “We interviewed those people,” they told me. “We didn’t understand anything they were saying.”
A few short months later, I found myself in a dozen halfhour interviews with senior editors at Times headquarters, trying not to let my panic show. When the interviews wrapped up that evening, I marched across the street to the nearest bodega, bought the cheapest twist-cap wine I could find, and chugged it straight from the bag.
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I told myself that one day I would at least be able to tell my grandchildren that the holy New York Times had once invited me into the building. But to my surprise, I was hired. And three years later I was still trying not to let my panic show. In those three years, I’d covered Chinese hackers as they infiltrated thermostats, printers, and takeout menus.
I’d covered an Iranian cyberattack that replaced data at the world’s richest oil company with an image of a burning American flag. I’d watched as Chinese military hackers and contractors crawled through thousands of American systems in search of everything from plans for the latest stealth bomber to the formula for Coca-Cola.
I’d covered an escalating series of Russian attacks on American energy companies and utilities. And I’d embedded with the Times’ own IT security team as the Chinese hacker we came to refer to as “the summer intern” popped up on our networks each morning at 10:00 A.M. Beijing time and rolled out by 5:00 P.M. in search of our sources. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book
“That was our big wake-up call,” James R. Gosler, the godfather of American cyberwar, told me one afternoon in late 2015. “We were lucky beyond belief to discover we were being had. Or we would still be using those damn typewriters.” If any single technologist can be credited with spurring the United States to scramble, catch up.
And take the lead as the world’s most advanced digital superpower, it is a recently retired man in his late sixties who bears an uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus, now living on the outskirts of Las Vegas. There, the only sign of Gosler’s long, redacted intelligence career is a box filled with intelligence awards, all of them doled out in mostly private.
Classified ceremonies for accomplishments the public will likely never know about. It was Gosler who pushed to declassify Project Gunman early. “I was the irritant,” he said, chuckling. Irritant would be a generous understatement. I asked nearly every single one of the men who guided the CIA and NSA through the turn of the century to name the father of American cyberwar, and none hesitated. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book
“Jim Gosler.” And yet in hacker circles Gosler remains an unknown. Even the thousands of hackers who flock to Vegas every year for Black Hat and Def Con to watch the biggest names in hacking break into iPhones, ATMs, and elevators are clueless to the fact that the real wizard of their trade lives just a few miles away.
When Gosler and I first met in person, we met at The Venetian hotel during the Black Hat hacking conference. It was the first time in the conference’s almost twenty-year history that he had stepped anywhere near it. “This is a terrible place to recruit,” Gosler informed me. The crème de la crème of nation-state hackers, he told me, weren’t showing their skills off at conferences.
They were laboring in stealth in university labs and secure operations centers. Over the course of Gosler’s career, this unassuming man served as the central catalyst for the United States government’s vulnerability discovery and exploitation programs as society made the transition to digital. And if he were any less humble, Gosler would probably concede as much. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book
Instead, he credits his colleagues and bosses in the intel world and a host of New Age management gurus. Gosler frequently cites Malcolm Gladwell—“The Outlier is fantastic!” he told me, more than once. Gordon Moore and Andy Grove, two former chief executives of Intel, were his heroes. Grove’s book Only the Paranoid Survive is his bible.
But his all-time favorite is Price Pritchett, the organizational management guru. For a president with no particular technical background to speak of, Obama became deeply engaged with Olympic Games. Not one month after his inauguration, the worm achieved its first major success: a cascade of centrifuges at Natanz had sped out of control, and several had shattered.
Obama phoned Bush to tell him that his “third option” was paying off. Ahmadinejad had stated that Iran was determined to eventually install more than 50,000 centrifuges, but after steadily building up capacity between 2007 and 2009, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) records show a gradual dropoff starting in June 2009 that continued over the next year. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Download
The program was working just as Alexander hoped it would. By the start of 2010, the worm had destroyed 2,000 of Natanz’s 8,700 centrifuges. With every new strike on the rotors, Obama would meet with his advisors in the White House Situation Room. Not only were the centrifuges breaking down, the Iranians were losing confidence in the whole program.
Inspections were turning up nothing, and Natanz officials started turning on each other, suspecting subterfuge. Several technicians were fired. Those remaining were told to physically guard the centrifuges with their lives. Meanwhile, their computer screens continued to show everything functioning normally. While pleased, Obama worried about the precedent these attacks would set.
This was the world’s first cyberweapon of mass destruction. If the worm got out, it would reshape armed conflict as we knew it. For the first time in history, a country could reach across borders and do with code what previously could have only been done with aircraft and bombs. If Iran, or any other adversary, learned of this new weapon, it would almost certainly embolden them to do the same. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Download
Regulating the global sale of zero-days has long been a messy and flawed endeavor. Most can agree that restricting the sale of hacking tools to authoritarian regimes is noble in theory. Proponents point out that the State Department regularly blocks weapon sales to dictatorships and argue the same logic should apply to digital tools.
That can be used to spy on entire populations or trigger a deadly explosion. But critics argue that, in practice, the rules would backfire. Security researchers argue that restrictions on zero-days would actually handicap cybersecurity, in that it would keep researchers from sharing vulnerability research and malware code across borders.
American companies that conduct business abroad argue it would open them to select prosecution, and ultimately benefit states like China and Russia that only enforce regulations when convenient. Others argue that zero-days are code and regulating the exchange of code would be akin to regulating math and ideas, infringements on free speech.This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Download
As the two Italians, Luigi and Donato, put it: “We don’t sell weapons, we sell information.” The pushback has helped keep the zero-day market largely unregulated. And so long as the United States continues to be one of the zero-day market’s biggest sponsors, that is unlikely to change.
The closest the United States has ever gotten to controlling the export of hacking tools and surveillance technology is the Wassenaar Arrangement. Named for the Dutch town where the arrangement was originally signed in 1996, the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods.
And Technologies was designed to replace the previous set of Cold War norms used by Western states to keep weapons and military technology from making their way to Russia, China, and their communist satellites. Wassenaar’s goal was to control the sale of conventional weapons systems and dual-use technologies—sophisticated computers, centrifuges, drones—from reaching despots in Iran. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Download
Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. Its original signatories included the United States and forty-one other countries, including most of Europe, Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, and though the arrangement is nonbinding, member-states agree to establish.
And enforce their own domestic laws to control the sale of items on Wassenaar’s control list, which they update every December. They had seen this a thousand times. Mandiant’s clients could spend millions of dollars on the latest and greatest in newfangled firewalls and antivirus software, but security was only as good as the weakest link.
And usually the weakest link was a human who clicked on a simple phishing email or message containing something nasty. The messages could be quite persuasive. The attacker might mimic a FedEx tracking notice or an HR manager. Somebody, somewhere in the organization, almost inevitably fell for it and clicked. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Download
As Mandiant’s investigators wound their way from infected machine to machine, they picked up on a common thread: several Google employees in the company’s Beijing office were trading messages with colleagues, partners, and clients using an external Microsoft chat service. As investigators sifted through their chats, they found one blaring red flag.
Each had clicked on a link attached to the same menacing three-word message: “Go Kill Yourself.” It had taken a Russian attack to push the NSA to step up its game in offense. Likewise, Aurora—and Snowden’s revelations three years later—pushed Silicon Valley to rethink defense. “The attack was proof that serious actors—nation-states —were doing these things, not just kids,” Adkins told me.
Google knew China would be back. To buy time, it shifted as many systems as possible to platforms that would be alien to the Chinese. And then they began the slow, arduous journey of hardening Google—eventually the entire internet—from the inside out. Grosse and Adkins started with long overdue security measures, before moving on to wilder pursuits. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Free
Before too long, Google’s team had settled into an intensive regime of bit-by-bit security reinforcement, until finally it was spearheading a full-fledged surveillance resistance movement. By the time its checklist was complete, years later, Google’s mission would include one radical addition: neuter the world’s stockpiles of zero-day exploits and cyberweapons in the process.
“The contractors can be downright exploitative,” a hacker told me late one night at a club in Vancouver. The CanSecWest hacking competition had come to a close that night and hackers, brokers, and contractors were letting loose. Linchpin Labs, an exploit broker for Five Eyes, was well represented. So was Arc4dia, a Canadian shop that sells exploits to an undisclosed lists of foreign intelligence services.
A few former VRL hackers were there. So was Bekrar. The feds were doing their damndest to blend in. I’d been introduced to the hacker—a William Shatner lookalike in his late forties whom I will call Cyber Shatner—by a mutual acquaintance who vouched I could be trusted and wouldn’t reveal his real name. Shatner had been selling exploits to big defense contractors for decades. This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends PDF Book Free
But these days, it was clear from the avalanche of grievances pouring from this mouth that he wanted out. “I’d sell Raytheon an exploit for $30,000 and they’d turn around and sell it to an agency for $300,000,” Shatner told me. For a time, he worked on retainer for Raytheon. “Until I learned just how screwed I was getting.” In any market, there is a fool.
It had recently occurred to Shatner that he was the fool. There are no copyright laws for zero-days, no patents on exploits. He told me he spent months developing an exploit for a firewall, but when he submitted it, they rejected it.