September 23, 2021
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about cloud and enterprise software. This Thursday: why the FBI let ransomware victims twist in the wind, the next big AI startup IPO, and the absurdity of Dreamforce.
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Ransomware is one of the most pressing problems of our day, with the potential to affect almost any business operating on the internet. Creative approaches will be needed to solve this problem, but the FBI's response to the July Kaseya attack bears scrutiny.
FBI investigators obtained but didn't disclose decryption keys for the malware that earlier this year infected software built and sold by Kaseya, the Washington Post reported this week. The agency reportedly sat on those keys for several weeks, despite the fact that as many as 1,200 businesses and organizations were scrambling to stay in business after their critical data was encrypted by a hacker group known as REvil.
Why didn't the FBI come forward? It wanted to bust down some digital doors: Investigators didn't disclose that they had obtained the key because they were worried about alerting REvil before they could execute some sort of "operation" against the group, according to the Post.
In the end, the FBI accomplished nothing. REvil lives to attack the next unsuspecting group using the next vector to surface, and businesses spent hundreds of millions of dollars (by the Post's estimates) trying to recover their data before the decryption tool was released.
But here's the "to be fair" section. Ransomware is a troubling problem that crosses national boundaries and is almost impossible to prevent with conventional law-enforcement techniques.
Still, it feels like the FBI got this wrong. Allowing American businesses to suffer the effects of ransomware attacks for which the country's top law-enforcement agency has a fix just seems like the wrong way to go.
Businesses are already hesitant to report ransomware attacks to law-enforcement authorities. How are they going to react knowing their government let them twist in the wind?
— Tom Krazit
Businesses, cities and government agencies will continue to generate vast amounts of location data. Moving through the next decade, location data can help underpin major transformational shifts in how our economies and societies are examined. It can be harnessed to help solve some of our world's most pressing inequity challenges and transform the way we live, move and interact within our communities.
IoT IPO: Samsara could be the next big AI IPO later this year as it sees increasing demand for technology that helps companies manage moving parts, such as fleets of commercial vehicles, through sensors and software. Protocol's Joe Williams talked to CEO Sanjit Biswas about the future of the industrial internet and how Samsara bounced back from a pandemic-related setback.
ERGs vs. HR: Employee-resource groups have been extremely valuable helping underrepresented people inside tech companies have their voices heard against the homogenous crowds. But as Protocol's Megan Rose Dickey reported, those groups often lack power and are marginalized by corporate priorities and skeptics of labor organizations.
D.C. OMG: Not content with sniping at each other during every enterprise software bidding process, Google and Microsoft exchanged blows this week using the mightiest of weapons: D.C. lobbyists. Protocol's Ben Brody broke down why Google is complaining that Microsoft's hold on the public-sector office productivity software market is bad (hint: it's about money).
We are on the verge of seeing a massive increase in location-relevant data, well beyond anything today, and driven by an expanding network of sensor-equipped vehicles, devices and machines. But we are moving into a more dynamic world where all objects and things need to understand where they are and how to precisely interact with their surroundings. It is the beginning of a new era of Spatial Intelligence.
Thanks for reading — see you Monday!