Ransomare app spreads across global businesses

By Adam Lashinsky
July 5, 2017

The world is feeling scarier by the day.

North Korea’s missile threats are no laughing matter. The television news pairs feel-good stories about Fourth of July celebrations with ominous notes about shows of force by police at those same events. And nobody seems to know quite what to think about an outbreak of hacking attacks that commands headlines around the world.

No sooner did Fortune put to bed its July cover packaged titled simply, “Hacked,” then another assault hit computers around the globe. The list of victims is dizzying. Lawyers at DLA Piper were forced to work from home. A Pennsylvania hospital delayed operations. Shipping giants Maersk and Federal Express fdx saw operations ground to a halt.

Worse, no one seems to be quite sure who’s doing the attacking or why. Reasonable people are scared. I came home from a week-long vacation to find multiple emails from my corporate IT department warning me not to open “phishing” attempts. I found many more suspicious emails the IT folks didn’t warn me about.

It’s not only a good time for a cover package on hacking, but also a good opportunity to convene experts to explain it all. Week after next, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference, we’ll discuss all this with Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, who now heads a firm called IronNet Cybersecurity.

Maybe he can calm us all down.

***

Thanks to Aaron Pressman for ably stepping in for me last week. I felt smarter and better informed when I caught up on his reports.

Also, I want to wish a hearty congratulations to Nick Varchaver, winner of the 2017 Lawrence Minard Editor Award, which was celebrated last week in New York at the Gerald Loeb Awards. The description of the award fits Nick to a tee. It “honors excellence in business, financial, and economic journalism editing, and recognizes an editor whose work does not receive a byline or whose face does not appear on-air for the work covered.” Anyone who had been edited by Nick—I’m proud and privileged to count myself in that group—knows just how much he adds to their copy, without ever receiving any credit. Until now. Way to go, Nick.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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