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5 Stocks to Watch as Cyberattacks Keep Disrupting Businesses

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Over the year, technology has reduced geographical boundaries and helped businesses grow by leaps and bounds. Even since the coronavirus outbreak, technology like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning helped businesses and governments operate with ease, as employees worked safely from their homes. But this has also increased cybercrimes, and organizations are doing their best to battle cyberthreats. The large-scale transgression that removes or degenerates or exposes significant information is becoming more frequent. In fact, there is a dramatic increase in hostile nation-state-sponsored and organized cyberattacks or cybercrimes.

Frequent Cyberattacks Hindering Operations

According to a Congressional Research Service report, the deep web, which is estimated to be 5,000 times larger than the surface web and is constantly growing. Now the dark web that offers cybercriminals a platform to trade malware, exploit kits, and cyberattack services, is also a part of the deep web. While it is difficult to scoop out cybercriminals from the dark web, cybercrimes remain a big threat to businesses, governments, utilities, and essential service providers.

As the world was trying to cope up with the virus scare, locking themselves indoors for safety, cybercriminals kept attacking hospitals and health care facilities to make quick money. Last September, computer systems of Universal Health Services went offline after a malicious software (malware) attack led to the cancellation of some surgeries and diverted some ambulances. Though no patients were harmed or data was leaked, the attack cost $67 million last year before taxes to the hospital chain operator. The attackers had shut users out of their own data and demanded payment to unlock it.

In May, a cyberextortion attempt forced the Colonial Pipeline that carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast to shut down. DarkSide, a cyber-criminal gang, demanded a large ransom from Colonial as they locked up computer systems by encrypting data and paralyzing networks. Just three weeks after this big cyberattack, the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS suffered from a cyberattack by REvil Group. The attack forced the company to shut down Cactus, Texas, Brooks, Alberta, and the Greeley plants.

Cybercrimes have dramatically increased over the past years and haven’t spared federal agencies. Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Department of Defense faced one of the largest and most sophisticated attacks. The company announced on Dec 13, 2020, that it experienced a sophisticated cyberattack, which is affecting the build process for SolarWinds Orion products (at least a few, if not all), a suite of widely used IT and network management tools. Nearly 18,000 users of this affected software, including several key government agencies faced cyber threat.

It is wise to say that data is the building block of a digitized economy, and with technological advancement, business, education system, and governments are transitioning into the digital world. But the opportunities for innovation have malice around it, some of which are incalculable. With millions joining the Web every day, cyber threats keep expanding and targeting computers, networks, and smartphones, disrupting people's lives, transportation, power grids, and things with an electronic pulse. This has made cybersecurity very essential for protecting these organizations.

5 Stocks to Watch

As per a Cybersecurity Ventures report, cybercrimes will cost the world $6 trillion yearly by 2021, and the market will jump to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, rising from $3 trillion in 2015. Cybercrime now stands to hinder human advancement and adaptation of technology and cause damage equal to that done by natural disasters, if not lesser. Hence, constructing a strong firewall against these large-scale breaches has become of utmost priority. Here are five cybersecurity stocks that investors should keep a close watch on.

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (PANW - Free Report) provides cybersecurity platform solutions. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 22.5% against the Zacks Security industry’s projected earnings decline of 5%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 1.9% upward over the past 60 days. Palo Alto Networks sports a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT - Free Report) provides broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 11.6% against the Zacks Security industry’s projected earnings decline of 5%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 1.4% upward over the past 60 days. Fortinet carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

F5 Networks, Inc. (FFIV - Free Report) provides multi-cloud application services for the security, performance, and availability of network applications, servers, and storage systems. This Zacks Rank #3 company's expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 9.4% compared with the Zacks Internet - Software industry’s projected earnings growth of 0.7%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 0.4% upward over the past 60 days.

ServiceNow, Inc. (NOW - Free Report) offers security incident management, threat enrichment intelligence, vulnerability response management and security incident intelligence sharing security operation products. The company's expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 18.8% compared with the Zacks Computers - IT Services industry’s projected earnings growth of 10.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 0.6% upward over the past 60 days. ServiceNow carries a Zacks Rank #3.

Zscaler, Inc. (ZS - Free Report) operates as a cloud security company. This Zacks Rank #3 company's expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 91.7% compared with the Zacks Internet - Services industry’s projected earnings growth of 4.7%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 15% upward over the past 60 days.

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