Jeff Yastine Blog | The Next Cyber Victim Is… | Talkmarkets
Editor, Total Wealth Insider
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Jeff “JL” Yastine is the editor of Total Wealth Insider. He first joined Banyan Hill Publishing as editorial director in 2015, bringing with him more than two decades of experience as a stock market investor and financial journalist at the center of financial world ... more

The Next Cyber Victim Is…

Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 2:53 PM EDT

We recently wrapped up a conference with hundreds of Banyan Hill subscribers.

The news about Equifax’s data breach, and the long line of data thefts in the years before, was very much on everyone’s mind. Knowing Total Wealth Insider’s focus on cybersecurity investments, someone asked me: Why does it keep happening?

I’ll focus on one out-of-the-way industry — overseas shipping — for an explanation.

A “Fingers Crossed” Cybersecurity Plan

According to the BBC, a private security firm named CyberKeel launched three years ago with the idea of bringing a higher level of awareness about viruses and data theft. The answer from big shipping companies, according to CyberKeel’s senior partner, was: Don’t waste your time. We’re pretty safe. There’s no need.

That’s typical. Hack attacks are like recessions — they’re not real until one happens to you.

It turns out one shipper had a virus in its computer system that added a hacker’s bank account number each time the shipping company’s suppliers requested electronic payment.

The hack extracted several million dollars, according to CyberKeel, before the shipper realized why its suppliers weren’t getting paid.

The final straw was the NotPetya ransomware attack this summer. The giant Danish shipping firm Maersk recently said the hack forced it to halt operations at 76 of its ocean terminals around the world, causing $300 million worth of disruptions to its business.

Maersk’s CEO told the Financial Times that the attack was so damaging “we ended up having to use WhatsApp on our private phones [to communicate]. It was, frankly, quite a shocking experience.”

The point is, huge cyberhacks keep happening when computer security isn’t a top priority for a company.

It’s also a key reason why cybersecurity stocks will continue to be huge winners for years to come. For instance, since I first wrote about the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security ETF (NYSE: HACK) on August 24, the shares are up more than 4%.

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