Cyber Wars and Hackings Create New Industry

Brittney Barrett |

Cyber WarsLast week, two of the most notorious hacker groups, Anonymous and TeaM poisoN announced they would combine forces for the purpose of breaking into the security fields of major banks in support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  The campaign, entitled “Operation Robin Hood,” intends to restore money to the “99 percent” who the hackers believe have been negatively impacted by the banks.

How operation Robin Hood intends to rob credit card information and restore funds to the 99 percent and the manner in which they’ll determine who is deserving of the loot is shrouded in mystery. Another question worth discussing is how the banks will protect themselves. Major financial institutions have been the victim of hacking multiple times in recent year, with firms from J.P. Morgan (JPM) to Citibank (C), and Capital One (COF) having been victimized by a crime of this nature during 2011.

So how can these hackings be avoided? Well for customers, operation Robin Hood suggests withdrawing funds from banks and putting them in credit unions: for the banks themselves though, that is a different story. Hacking are occurring more frequently; the prevalence of Wikileaks and the increasing aggression between the 99 and 1 percent have both served as an impetus for an increasing number of cyber attacks on both banks and governments. More advanced methods and programs can allow the break-ins to go undetected, further intensifying the prominence of these attempts. The cost of each systematic invasion is different but both banks and governments have to pay a price, either with a dollar value or in terms of information. This can be expensive, inconvenient and often dangerous.

The time, manpower, money and information it takes to reverse the impact of these attacks, if it's even possible, is tremendous. It makes sense that governments and companies would pay a premium for an airtight program that would ward against internet bandits. That has already begun to happen. Global spending on cyber warfare is expected to reach US$15.9 billion next year, up from an estimated US$12.5 billion during 2011, as governments and business notice an uptick in internet invasions according to a report on defenceWeb. A report from Visiongain’s Cyberwarfare Market 2012-2022 indicated that global governments would make it a financial priority to invest in cyber warfare systems and solutions intended to ward against the rise in cyber attacks and prevent potentially damaging information from being released. Both banks and governments have been alarmed by the frequency of invasions for information ranging from credit card information to classified government files. Beginning in October, the National Security Agency, an under-the-radar  branch of the US military, began providing Wall Street banks with intelligence on hackers indicating the natural presence of anxiety surrounding an attack on banks, according to defenceWeb.

Shawn Henry, Executive assistant director of the FBI seemed to feel such support was necessary. "We know adversaries have full unfettered access to certain networks…Once there, they have the ability to destroy data," he said in an interview. "We see that as a credible threat to all sectors, but specifically the financial services sector." In the same article, Former Deputy US Defense Secretary William Lynn was quoted as saying cyber attacks could prove particularly devastating for financial institutions given the critical importance of the data stored on their networks and the need to maintain investor confidence in their security. For this reason, it could be presumed that the companies creating the best and most advanced programs in this field will be increasingly profitable both from sales to U.S. financial institutions, the U.S. government and other global governments and corporations. The unrest between the 1 and 99 percent alongside the tenuous state of global politics seem to be bubbling higher by the day and cyber warfare is increasing alongside it. The coming years will likely be a golden era for the companies developing these programs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The secret technology behind world-wide government surveillance has become a booming business, with dozens of companies making and selling everything from “massive intercept” gear that can gather all Internet communications in a country to “hacking” tools that allow governments to break into people’s computers.” In the piece, Jerry Lucas, the President of TeleStaretgies, which puts on the training conference and organizes trade shows for the industry, said that attendance has been rising by 12 percent annually since 2002. Brian McCann, the CEO of New Jersey-based OnPath Technology, which makes devices to support internet monitoring, agrees. “From an investor standpoint, it’s a really hot topic,” he says, “Just this year, we’re having capital investors calling us up.”

The conferences are being held everywhere from the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, the Czech Republic and Brazil, with more than 150 participating vendors. Among the companies offering security protection, according to a bundle of documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal, include Bivio Networks and Open Source Intelligence, which both seem to promise secure internet operations and highly advanced methods of guarding against internet attacks. For each of these companies presenting; however, there is another which promises hacking anonymity or a new clever way of breaking through the increasingly attitudinal security boundaries.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
FB Facebook Inc. 115.40 0.30 0.26 25,070,364
C Citigroup Inc. 56.02 -1.25 -2.18 25,110,311
JPM JP Morgan Chase 81.60 -0.19 -0.23 16,931,504
COF Capital One Financial Corporation 86.00 -0.61 -0.70 5,086,842

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