What's the Deal With This New Ransomware Attack?
Petya has infiltrated multinational companies and destroyed massive amounts of data.
[MUSIC PLAYING] ANDREW NUSCA: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're talking about the global ransomware attack some are calling Petya. All right, Bob, what is the deal here with this thing? ROBERT HACKETT: Yeah, so this cyber attack, it started off in Ukraine. And from there, it spread. It's hit Russia. It's hit Europe. It's hit the US. ANDREW NUSCA: Every continent it seems. I mean, the internet is global, right? ROBERT HACKETT: Exactly, and businesses are getting locked out of their corporate networks. They're unable to access their files, their data. ANDREW NUSCA: And this is horrific. ROBERT HACKETT: It's really grinding operations to a halt. ANDREW NUSCA: This is horrific. I mean, we're talking about companies like Maersk, the shipping giant, WPP, the ad agency, Merck, the pharma giant. I mean, I thought I saw a US hospital on the list. Some of these companies have mission critical systems. We can't let them go down in like a hospital, right? ROBERT HACKETT: They do, they do. And so the question arises, should these companies pay the ransom? ANDREW NUSCA: But this is crazy. This is a crazy idea, isn't it? ROBERT HACKETT: Absolutely, it's a terrible idea. They should not pay the ransom. Definitely do not do that. You're only going to encourage more attacks. And plus, you can never even be sure that you're going to get your data back if you do pay off the extortionist. ANDREW NUSCA: But how do you-- I mean, yeah, I agree. You don't want to aid and abet criminals, but at the same time, how can you ensure that you're going to get your data back? And let's be honest. Let's look at the bigger picture. How do you even know it's ransomware, right? I mean, there are so many hacks and attacks and call them whatever you'd like out there, that are just trying to watch the world burn. So what are you supposed to do? ROBERT HACKETT: Totally true. I mean, earlier this year, we saw the WannaCry attack, which people have described as ransomware. It was sort of the predecessor to this most recent one, Petya. And in that case, people have attributed it-- actually, the NSA has said through anonymous sourcing and newspaper that they think it was North Korea. ANDREW NUSCA: Well-- ROBERT HACKETT: And it seems like they're really more interested, like you said, just in destroying things than in actually getting money. ANDREW NUSCA: Can I just say that-- ROBERT HACKETT: The money's nice, but. ANDREW NUSCA: Isn't part of this the NSA asking for back doors into systems, and then some of those tools got stolen and they're out in the wild. Isn't that part of this? ROBERT HACKETT: That is part of this, yeah, although, I mean, that debate, if you want to get into it, it's sort of like, should there be very strong encryption, or should the government have the right to pry into your tech prop. ANDREW NUSCA: Right. So what are you supposed to do? ROBERT HACKETT: You can't have one or the other. ANDREW NUSCA: Are you supposed to just back up your systems? Is that the idea here, that-- and we should just be better at this? ROBERT HACKETT: Definitely, yeah. Back up your systems. Definitely. And in lieu of that, get some security products that can shield you. ANDREW NUSCA: Good point. But we're out of time. Come to fortune.com for more Tech Debate. [MUSIC PLAYING]