Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Creative Commons

DLA Piper's 3,600 attorneys work in 40 countries, making it one of the world's largest law firms. One of those countries is Ukraine, which on June 27 placed the firm on the front lines of one of the most penetrating commercial cyberattacks ever: Petya. When it hit, it took down DLA Piper's global computer systems, which appear still not to be fully back up. But DLA Piper was only one of hundreds of thousands of victims of the malware in more than 60 countries.

Can't artificial intelligence protect us? AI and machine learning are now crucial to protection (see below). But when it comes to malware like Petya, that will be too late — your data and your entire hard drive will already be encrypted. Petya victims lost much of their stuff to eternity.

BUT there is other protection: On the day of the attack, Microsoft published a blog post and a video describing new protective software, buttressed by machine learning capability. Called Windows Defender Application Guard, it should prevent Internet terrorists, at least for now, from taking down the world's infrastructure and economy, according to Simon Crosby, CTO of Bromium, an Internet security firm, who worked with Microsoft on the technology.

Who dunnit? A lot of security analysts see the fingerprints of a state actor in Petya, specifically Russia, although we still don't know with certainty.

If it is Russia, will it stop? Despite President Donald Trump's planned creation of a new "cyber security unit" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, probably not any time soon. Russia continues to intrude in critical U.S. systems.

How the protection works: The Windows program, and a similar Bromium software that Crosby claims is even more robust, quarantines users in a sort of protective bubble — an "isolation chamber," as he calls it — within their computing system. If there is a malware attack, the software safely wipes it away after the browser is closed.

But why isn't Microsoft distributing it now? I asked a Microsoft spokeswoman why the system will be released only later this year. She responded by saying WDAG is currently being tested with Microsoft clients.

A "wake-up call": Security firms are painting a stark picture in which Petya is only the beginning of a dark future of worsening cyber attacks on commercial and government actors. Whoever you are, it's essential that you keep your devices updated with the latest patches because if you're attacked now, there is a good chance you'll never recover your stuff and may lose your hardware, too.

Bottom line: "There's no time anymore for humans to respond with an alert. We have to respond at machine time scale," Crosby tells Axios.

Go deeper

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.

Dave Lawler, author of World
15 mins ago - World

Biden's Russia challenge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Biden administration has already proposed a five-year extension of the last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, announced an urgent investigation into a massive Russia-linked cyberattack, and demanded the release of Russia’s leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny.

Why it matters: Those three steps in Biden's first week underscore the challenge he faces from Vladimir Putin — an authoritarian intent on weakening the U.S. and its alliances, with whom he’ll nonetheless have to engage on critical issues.