This "Massive" Cybersecurity Attack Targets Your Money
If you haven't yet been the victim of a cybersecurity attack, you might be soon depending on what bank you use.
Computer security firm McAfee issued a report yesterday (Thursday) alleging a "massive cyberattack" was being planned for next spring.
According to CNNMoney, a gang of criminals headed by a Russian cyber mafia chief known as NSD had developed a powerful "Trojan Horse" program designed to take money out of victims' bank accounts and channel it into their own.
The plan, called "Project Blitzkrieg," was aimed at 30 U.S. financial institutions, including online payment company PayPal, and was based on a malware program that would clone an account holder's computer to make it look like the accounts were being accessed from the owner's home computer, avoiding security questions that would deny the criminals access to the accounts. The idea was to then access thousands of accounts simultaneously to take out small amounts of cash from each one that would total millions of dollars.
Project Blitzkrieg first came to light when notices were posted on hacker Websites looking for hackers to join the group planning the attack. They offered a share of the loot for service.
Once the plan was discovered, it seems to have "gone dark."
It is impossible to know if Project Blitzkrieg has been cancelled or whether it is proceeding under much tighter security but security companies, including McAfee, have been working with banks to bolster their security.
The Next Profit Breakthrough: Synthetic Biology
Drug, chemical, and biofuel firms are relying more than ever on artificial fragments of DNA to invent new products. It's called synthetic biology.
For example, teams all over the world are now in their labs looking to create novel biotech compounds or drugs by inserting synthetic DNA into cells, either living or artificial. They're also growing new microorganisms that yield biofuels to be used in lieu of oil.
Trouble is, the process is so complex that it can take days to synthesize these man-made genes, usually in small batches.
Not only is it time consuming, but it requires the use of costly robots and other advanced gear. Simply stated, if someone came along with a breakthrough that greatly speeded up the development of synthetic genes, it could affect several industries at once, not to mention its own value in the market.
Allow me to introduce you to Gen9 Inc. The company is blazing a trail in the development of scalable technologies for synthesizing genes.
Now, Gen9 is a small, new dynamic company. And its potential is huge.
It was formed last summer around a unique new device that greatly speeds up the process of creating synthetic DNA.
Even better, it cuts the cost of that process by leaps and bounds.
With Apple Stock Falling, Be Sure You Do This (Nasdaq: AAPL)
If Sir Isaac Newton were alive today he wouldn't have to sit under a tree to get knocked senseless by an errant fruit – with Apple stock falling, rising, then falling again, just being an Apple investor would do the trick.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) stock started the year at $411, itself a 27% increase over the course of 2011. The stock rocketed to $626 in April, fell to $530 in May before zooming up to $702 in September.
And then it really got crazy.
Apple stock started falling, taking a rocky slide down to an intraday low of $505 on Nov. 16. Two weeks later, AAPL was back over $590 and threatening to cross the $600 threshold.
Until this week, when Apple stock went falling yet again. On Tuesday AAPL dropped $10 a share (about 1.7%), then Wednesday nosedived another $37.05, or 6.4%, to close at $538.79.
Apple stock today (Thursday) opened in negative territory, slipping quickly down to $518.63. Then it suddenly reversed sharply upward, reaching $550 by noon.
Analysts were left scratching their heads.
"Apple stock is significantly more volatile than its earnings and innovation stream," Daniel Ernst, analyst with Hudson Square Research, told Reuters. "And yet the wind blows slightly from the south instead of the east one particular morning, and the stock is down 6%."
"It makes no sense. There are lines around the block for their products all around the world," Ernst added. "No other company has that."
Why Apple Stock is Falling
Theories abound as to why Apple stock is falling.
This week's move most likely was triggered when AAPL stock made a "death cross" – that is, the 50-day moving average dropped below the 200-day moving average, typically a bad sign for a stock.
But there are a few other factors that could have turned off investors:
2013 Tech Stock Forecast: The "Buzz-Worthy" Stocks The Market Will Love Next Year
The best way to score tech stock gains in 2013 is simple: tap into the areas where there is "constant buzz."
But before we get to the three areas that are the most buzz-worthy, let's start by clearing up one big myth. There really is no such thing as one tech industry.
High-tech now sweeps throughout the entire economy. We're talking everything from robot welders, to laser surgery, to hum-drum database management.
So, even if the economy remains flat or declines, there will still be buzz-driven tech stock winners, companies involved in fields that are so vital that customers simply must have their products.
Ditto for the expected battles over Obamacare this year. Two years after its passage, we still don't know exactly how many states will set up the exchanges needed to put the law into practice.
Either way, it doesn't really matter…
There's so much going on in high tech that some specific tech stocks are bound to yield big gains in 2013.
I've narrowed it all down to three vital areas that should power through next year– no matter what the economy or the politicians throw at them.
It starts with the biggest of them all, the mobile wave…
This Dog-Inspired Nanotech Device Accurately "Sniffs Out" Explosives
When it comes to a sense of smell, it's hard to beat a dog.
Scientists say canine noses are at least 10,000 more powerful than ours. That's tough to quantify, but this might help.
As Alexandra Horowitz, dog-cognition researcher from Barnard College, wrote in "Inside of a Dog," most humans notice if their coffee has a teaspoon of sugar added to it, but "a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools' worth."
That's why police forces around the world use "sniffer" canines to detect and find explosives, drugs, and even cadavers.
Inspired by that feat of nature, a team at UC Santa Barbara has just developed a nanotech chip that is every bit as accurate as a dog's nose. Only better.
These chips are so powerful, they can "sniff out" the differences between two molecules that to dogs or humans would smell the same. They're capable of distinguishing between certain substances at concentrations as low as one part per billion.
Oh, and they never steal meat off the counter or get sick on your carpet or whine to be taken out for a walk.
According to "Electronics News," the chip uses microfluidic nanotechnology to mimic the biological mechanism behind canine scent receptors.
This new chip packs a lot of punch into a small space (it's about the size of a fingerprint). Microchannels inside the gadget are 20 times smaller than a human hair. Once a tiny laser excites the absorbed molecules, a computer database detects the exact substance in question.
So what does it mean for investors?
Quite a lot, actually.
Shield Your Portfolio with Israel's "Iron Dome"
Israel has a radical new ballistic-missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome, and it has saved countless lives during the last couple of weeks.
The Iron Dome is not a literal "protective bubble" set up over a city.
But it might as well be…
This portable system is made up of three components: 1) a detection and tracking radar system, 2) the Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC) – basically a computer control center – and 3) units that fire missiles.
The radar detects incoming missiles and tracks their trajectories. Then, using this data, the BMC calculates where the missiles will likely hit and determines whether they pose a threat – and only then does the firing unit launch an interceptor (also a missile).
In this way, they take out the incoming rockets in midair, where it's safe to do so, far before they can reach their target on the ground below.
This is no easy feat. Think of standing in a field with a bow and arrow and trying to shoot down another arrow launched from a few hundred yards away. What's more, the system can handle multiple threats simultaneously and works in any kind of weather (day or night).
Designing something that complex boggles the mind, as does the fact that it works so well.
Thanks to an unending stream of breakthroughs in computing, sensors, radar, software, and guidance systems, we're at the point where one "arrow" can now shoot down another in a matter of seconds.
The Iron Dome is a clear game-changer in defense technology.
And the investment potential is just as big…
Why the Fate of Microsoft Stock Hinges on Windows 8
Any hope of jolting Microsoft stock out of years of stagnation lies with the success of its latest attempts to capture a slice of mobile computing.
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is only a bit player in mobile, currently dominated by devices running Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS and Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android. That's why the company now has a new mobile strategy, with the focal point being Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft's dominant computer operating system.
Windows 8 is optimized for the mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones that have stolen the thunder from traditional PCs, a market Microsoft long dominated.
Microsoft has also ventured into mobile hardware with its new Surface tablet.
Now Microsoft is betting that the Surface tablet will turn heads and that Windows 8 will put it back in the mobile OS game by luring hardware makers away from Android.
"I don't control the macro-environment, but there's a huge opportunity in the explosion of devices," Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein told Reuters. "There's demand for compelling devices and a connected set of cloud experiences. That's what Windows 8 is all about."
The Redmond, WA-based company must succeed in mobile to secure a new source of growth capable of moving Microsoft stock out of the doldrums where it has languished for more than a decade. The current 10-year return for MSFT is -6.39% — yes, negative. Rolling back to November 2001 puts the return on Microsoft stock at -15.75%.
Owners of Microsoft stock can only cross their fingers and hope the bet pays off.
How Mobile Success Could Help Microsoft Stock
Microsoft had little choice but to shift its attention to mobile computing. That's where the money is in tech today.
Apple's profits have soared from about $2 billion in FY 2006 to $41.7 billion in FY 2012, almost entirely on the strength of the iPhone and iPad.
More recently, Korean-based Samsung Electronics (PINK: SSNLF) has emerged as the dominant Android hardware maker, with its profits rocketing 91% in the September quarter on strong sales of its Galaxy series of smartphones.
Sales growth in mobile devices has soared over the past few years. Research firm Gartner expects combined global sales of tablets and smartphones to reach 821 million units this year and rise 46% to pass the 1.2 billion mark next year – triple that of global PC sales.
So far Microsoft hasn't been able to grab much of this market, with its Windows operating systems on just 2.4% of smartphones, and about 4% of tablets.
But these projections by research firm IDC see that changing with Windows 8…
How I "Saw" the Carnage at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)
If you've been following my advice, you avoided the carnage at the fumbling tech giant, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)
In fact, I told my Radical Technology Profits readers on Sept. 18 not to buy into the hype that H-P was becoming a great turnaround story.
That was after I wrote in this Money Morning article from January that H-P was one of the five tech stocks to avoid. It's lost over half of its value since then.
And had you used my Real Demand Tracking System to check out this stock, you would have seen for yourself that H-P was a lousy investment.
No, I didn't have any insider source that warned me about the accounting scandal rocking this Silicon Valley giant.
It runs deeper than that — the fundamentals and the technicals were just plain horrible for what is clearly a deeply troubled stock.
Hewlett-Packard's Autonomy Problem
In case you missed the news, H-P got crushed last week, falling more than 11% on word that the firm is writing down some $8.8 billion in the most recent quarter.
Honestly, that's an outrage.
I know, the party line is that H-P got hoodwinked when it bought the U.K. software firm Autonomy. Seems a whistle blower has now come forward to say Autonomy's accounting practices made the company a financial house of cards.
But as I see it, there was plenty of reason for HP to have been more cautious.
Cybersecurity Companies Gear Up for Huge Role in 2013
Cyber threats from hacktivists, criminal enterprises, and others will only grow worse in 2013 and beyond – increasing the importance of cybersecurity companies.
This has led the Obama administration to continually warn about cyber threats that are capable of causing widespread damage.
In a recent speech, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said computer assaults from rogue countries or terrorists could be as destructive as the Sept. 11 attacks. At the Pentagon, plans have been in place since 2010 to combat this threat.
But it's not just the nation's security that is at risk. Most global corporations are also vulnerable to cyberattacks.
An August cyberattack on Saudi Arabia's state oil company, Saudi Aramco, incapacitated about 30,000 computers. It was probably the most destructive attack ever launched against a non-government entity.
The risk of an attack is particularly high in the corporate sector because of the complacency of its executives. According to a recent study by the consultancy firm PwC, entitled PwC's 2013 Global State of Information Security Survey, most executives are too optimistic about their companies' ability to handle cyberattacks.
The study warned that the rise in the number and sophistication of security incidents globally, along with scrimped corporate budgets, are leaving many firms open to attack. The survey found that, in reality, only 8% of companies truly qualify as information security leaders, with many faults detected.
For example, one of the most common faults found was the lack of a security strategy (protection against malware, etc.) to address personal devices used for work purposes in the workplace.
Mark Lobel, a principal in PwC's Advisory practice, told the Financial Times, "Security models of the past decade are no longer effective. Companies…should prepare to play a new game – one that requires advanced skills and strategy to win against emerging threats."