Hackers Arrested for Attack that Cost the Market $80 Billion

- March 23rd, 2016

This incident reveals the breadth and severity of cyberattacks, and the importance of innovative tech solutions.

It is well documented that cyberattacks are an incredibly costly problem. Grant Thornton estimates that computer hacking costs businesses around the globe an excess of $300 billion a year. In the US alone, firms lost an estimated $61 billion to cyberattacks last year.
However, these statistics offer the impression that cyberattacks are a localized program: hackers target specific companies, limiting the scope of their damage. While this is undoubtedly true, there is another genre of cyberattack which impacts society on a much broader scale. These attacks cause maximum damage, creating exponential confusion and cost while cybersecurity specialists work to rectify the problem.
That’s what happened in 2013, when a group of alleged Syrian hackers took over the Associated Press’s Twitter feed (NYSE:TWTR) and sent out notifications that US President Barack Obama was injured in a White House bombing. These false statements had a snowball effect. Bloomberg reports that these bogus dispatches caused the Dow to fall by 143 points (or approximately $80 billion in value) as investors responded to the information.

Alleged hackers charged for Associated Press attack

Now, the alleged perpetrators have been charged. A trio of Syrian hackers belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army (a group which punishes opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government) are are being accused of the Twitter hack against the Associated Press, in addition to other crimes during the two-year period between 2011 and 2013.
The hackers’ main mode of attack is a technique known as “spear-phishing,” where e-mails containing malicious software are sent to target organizations. The software then enables the hackers to redirect content from the organization’s website to their own sites. In doing so, hackers can easily steal e-mail and hack social media accounts. In addition to the Associated Press, the hackers also targeted the White House computers.
While the news that these hackers have been charged might seem like progress, the larger problems of spear-phishing and political hacking persist. Ultimately, this indicates that the problem of cybersecurity cannot be solved by the legal system alone. Luckily, the public market offers up innovative solutions that can be employed in conjunction with legal measures to prevent the threat of future cyber attacks.

Investor perspective

Take Cyberark Software Ltd. (NASDAQ:CYBR), for instance. Cyberark is an Israel-based security company that provides IT security solutions that protect organizations from cyber attacks. Some of the company’s products include CyberArk Shared Technology Platform, Privileged Account Security Solution and Sensitive Information Management Solution. In the past month, share price for the company increased by 15.98 percent.
Meanwhile, Canada-based Absolute Software Corp (TSX:ABT) offers another alternative for investors. The company provides endpoint security and data risk management solutions. For instance, its Persistence technology provides organizations with visibility and control over all devices, regardless of user or location. Share price for this company has remained relatively stable over the past month, increasing by 0.94 percent.
Cyberark Software and Absolute Software represent just two options for investors in this space; there are many more opportunities to invest in this market. However, it’s key to note that investing in these companies won’t just impact your bottom line. Instead, the more that the cybersecurity industry grows, evolves and expands, the less damage hacking will cause to the market overall.
Securities Disclosure: I, Morag Mcgreevey, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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