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Coronavirus-Themed Hacking on The Rise: 3 Stocks in Focus

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With 118,000 infection cases and more than 4,000 deaths worldwide, the World Health Organization recently declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Increasing number of companies are asking their staff to work from home, in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

Amid all the outbreak-related disruptions, a new but not unexpected issue has cropped up. Hackers and cybercriminals are reportedly taking advantage of the pandemic-induced hype and using it to steal passwords and data.

As more and more people are subjected to quarantines, the use of internet-based services and payments is on the rise (Read more on 5 Internet-Based Stocks to Benefit From Coronavirus Lockdown). The grim environment is opening up opportunities for hackers.

Security analysts from Kaspersky has discovered new malicious cyber infections, going by the name Wuhan Coronavirus, which is circulating in the digital space.


Researchers anticipate more such cyber threats named after the coronavirus. Per the Lloyds of London, the cost of such attacks is expected to be more than $200 billion.

So far, 10 unique coronavirus spread-related files, filled with malicious infections including file-encrypting malware, crypto-mining malware and digital adjectives to siphon browser details, were found to be doing the rounds on the web.

Notably, an attack was recently attempted at a popular, interactive COVID-19 tracking map run by Johns Hopkins University.

Multi-Faceted Causes of The Medusa Effect

The Medusa Effect refers to the tendency of people to ignore and look away from the potential risks of a serious problem and hope that it does not affect them. Having said that, large companies, which have so far ignored the true magnitude of cybersecurity vulnerabilities that their organizations can be subjected to, are facing the flak now and having to plan “what-if” scenarios quickly.

In this situation of panic, security threats due to potential unexpected layoffs and supplier failures are increasing. At the same time, security companies, which were banking on the prospects of a rise in the security budget, are facing another dilemma. Most companies, in an effort to cut costs due to the crashing economy, might cut security budgets, which may lead to fresh scams that can take advantage of the fear related to the pandemic.

Cybersecurity Firms Brace Themselves

However, amid the confusion regarding cybersecurity at the time of the coronavirus pandemic, big and small vendors like Absolute Software, Cloudflare, Fortinet FTNT, FireEye (FEYE - Free Report) and Check Point CHKP are constantly trying to keep pace with the hackers and bolster their offerings against cybercrimes.

Notably, Absolute Software became the first cybersecurity company to offer its clients additional, free of cost VPN application support to protect their remote employees. This was followed by a similar offering by Cloudflare.

Fortinet seems to also benefit from the growing threat landscape, thanks to its suite of efficient offerings. The FortiMail platform can be used to block specific file types containing certain keywords, such as those related to the coronavirus. FortiMail is also capable of sending attachments to the FortiSandbox solution to check whether the file displays any malicious behavior. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), which makes it all the more attractive. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Further, with the growing number of employees working from home, the use of cloud and virtual meetings is also increasing. This is a great opportunity for the new hacking method doing the rounds to extract information and launch an attack.

FireEye, Inc. Price and Consensus

Notably, FireEye is currently focusing on cloud-based protection services. The company's subscription-based cloud protection service helps end-customers identify malware on any network and take preventive measures automatically. This Zacks Rank #2 company has expanded FireEye-as-a-Service (FaaS) to incorporate its threat intelligence and analytics in all alerts its customers receive and not just those from FireEye's technology stack.

Meanwhile, Check Point Software’s research arm, Check Point Research, has dedicated itself to rigorous research on the potential threats and cybercrimes themed on the coronavirus. In January, the company found that the Emotet took the crown of the leading malware threat and was being spread using a coronavirus-themed spam campaign.

Check Point, which currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), also recently found that domains named after coronavirus are 50% more likely to be malicious. Its research and inferences are giving companies an insight into the gravity of the threat landscape, which is spreading as fast as the pandemic.

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