Security Market Update: Q2 2019 in Review

In the second quarter, the US Border Agency and municipalities in Florida were both targets of cybersecurity attacks.

The second quarter of 2019 saw a number of major cybersecurity attacks including the US Customs and Border Protection, which implicated over 100,000 individuals records in May. 

Days later, hackers posted the breached records on the darkweb, exposing clients’ bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and drivers licenses, among other personal information. Data was stolen from Perceptics, the contractor to the US border agency.

In June, the US launched cyberattacks after two fuel tankers were targeted by gunmen in Iran. In response, Iranian hackers targeted US organizations, including the Department of Energy. 

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“Essentially, there have been many people targeted since these tensions increased,” John Hultquist, director of threat intelligence at FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE), told Wired

Throughout the second quarter, global attacks continued apace. The BBC reported that 55 percent of firms surveyed in Europe had reported attacks in 2019. This increased by a 40 percent uptick from 2018, and the costs from the attacks averaged US$229,000.

With 2019 halfway over, the Investing News Network (INN) recaps some of the notable events that took place in Q2 2019 and what’s ahead for the sector.

Security update Q2 2019: Retail

Ransomware and malware attacks maintained their dominance in the cybersecurity space during the second quarter. Many industries, including  retail, were impacted. For example, in May, drive-through restaurant Checkers was targeted in a malware attack on its point-of-sales (POS) system. Checkers has over 780 locations in the US. 

“So far, the most notable POS attack of 2019 was Checkers restaurant. POS malware was found in 15 percent of (its) restaurant chain in May 2019,” Navad Maman, cofounder of Deep Instinct, told INN. 

Deep Instinct is a cybersecurity firm that integrates deep learning into its security system. Through employing its neural networks, it provides automated and multilayered security services to businesses.

POS terminals are targeted because they carry an abundance of private, personal information. On top of this, the retail industry is integrating new devices and operating systems, which provide more opportunities for attack, David Roth, SVP and general manager in North America for Deep Instinct, told INN.

“Retail presents a very unique problem in cybersecurity. It’s a combination of some legacy systems that are very vulnerable, because they are not updated as frequently,” said Roth.

This is not an unfamiliar trend. Applebee’s and Forever 21 are retail companies that have experienced notable attacks in recent years, noted Maman.

“Aggregated data shows that in 2018, around 50 million records were stolen from in-person transactions using point of sales malware and POS breaches,” Maman said.

In June, Deep Instinct partnered with Kings Food Markets to provide security solutions for its POS system. Kings is taking preemptive steps towards protecting its customer data and preventing POS attacks. Security systems are planned to be deployed everywhere, from Kings cash registers in its 24 grocery store locations to its servers. 

Security update Q2 2019: Ransomware impact

The debilitating impact of ransomware is having an affect on both municipal governments and corporations. 

After a data breach that compromised 500,000 British Airways customers, British agencies fined British Airways close to US$230 million for its security practices. This fine came under the European data privacy law that came into effect in May 2018. 

“This is a considerable step change from the previous fining regime, and is indicative of how the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) seeks to incentivize security practices to stop data breaches like this,” Michael Veale, a digital rights researcher at the University College London, told the New York Times. 

In Riviera Beach, Florida, the municipality had to pay attackers US$600,000 in bitcoin to regain access to their systems after a police officer opened an email attachment that contained malware. The attack impacted the city’s 911 emergency response and email systems. 

Beyond Q2 2019

Looking forward to the rest 2019, the Brookings Institute offered solutions for governments to counter cybersecurity attacks. Acknowledging that no organization is 100 percent protected from cyber attacks, it said that integrating standard security solutions is imperative, as well as allocating sufficient resources to security measures and updated computer systems.

“Companies are very aware of the huge financial implications of a breach,” said Maman. “Enterprises should know that hackers are using more automation and more sophistication in their tools.”

Because of the rapid proliferation of ransomware and malware attacks, the demand for security services is increasing. For example, on June 24, Barron’s reported that Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT) received strong projected future growth in a report by JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM). Fortinet is a global leader in providing firewall services.

In short, the security sector continues to expand in size as threats increase in sophistication and frequency. Government, corporate and small business spending has followed in line and the financing community has taken notice. Between 2014 and 2018, funding levels reached US$1.34 billion. According to CB Insights, bank backing of security startup companies hit record levels in 2018.  The degree of demand for security solutions shows little sign of slowing down. 

For a list of the top security stocks on the NASDAQ halfway into 2019, read here

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Dorothy Neufeld, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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