The Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act, H.R. 3811, is a one-sentence bill that simply requires customers to be notified of any Obamacare website security breach no later than two business days after its discovery. It was passed in a 291-122 vote, with 67 Democrats breaking ranks in support.
Prior to this bill, there was no legal requirement for the Department of Health and Human Services to notify an individual if his or her personal information had been breached.
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Palo Alto Networks (NYSE: PANW) Stock Latest to Jump After Major Cyber Deal
Proving again that bigger is better in the fight against global cyber-attacks, another sizable cyber deal was inked late Monday.
Santa Clara, Calif.-headquartered Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) acquired Silicon Valley startup Morta Security, described as "operating in stealth mode since 2012." Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
PANW stock rose 3.7% Tuesday on the news.
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How to Spot the Best Stocks to Buy in Tech's Fastest-Growing Sector
This week saw San Jose, California networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO) purchase Columbia, Maryland-based cybersecurity company Sourcefire, Inc. (Nasdaq:FIRE).
The purchase price was a rather steep $2.7 billion. That's $76 per share - a handsome 29% premium to the around $49 share price early Monday, before the deal was announced. Shares of FIRE are now trading at just under $76 a share.
If you're looking for stocks to buy, these shares have probably had enough fun for one night, but they may have found a decent support level.
Sourcefire has spurned suitors before, and dallied with its fair share of M&A activity - turning down a buy offer from Barracuda Networks, while acquiring antivirus companies Immunet and Clam AntiVirus in the last decade
An Ever More Urgent NeedAttacks on computer networks are, without exaggeration, ceaseless. There is at least one ongoing attack somewhere in the world at any given time. Sourcefire is one of many network security firms filling an increasingly vital niche.
Sourcefire's flagship product, FirePOWER, which is based on the open-source Snort intrusion detection system, is acknowledged to be among the best in the industry.
Snort itself is said to be the most widely deployed IDP technology on earth. One of the more interesting products is their Advanced Malware Protection, which analyzes malware attacks and works to predict and prevent even the very worst attacks.
It's this kind of killer, boutique technology that makes companies like Sourcefire so attractive to the big boys.
4 Stocks to Buy in the Exploding Cybersecurity Market
There's a story out of England I heard recently that's one of the most ironic tales of how developments in technology - cybersecurity, in particular - need to be taken more seriously.
The story started in 2009, when 18-year-old Nicholas Webber was arrested for using fraudulent credit card details to pay for a penthouse suite at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, Central London.
When police examined Webber's laptop, they found details of 100,000 stolen credit cards linked to losses totaling 16.2 million pounds ($24.6 million)
Turns out Webber ran the Internet crime forum GhostMarket. The site allowed hackers to meet up virtually, create computer viruses and share stolen IDs and private credit card data.
In 2011 Webber was sentenced to five years in prison. Once in prison Webber was allowed to participate in a computer class.
And earlier this year, he hacked the prison computer system.
The Cybersecurity Investment Opportunity Everyone Is Missing
How to Invest in Cybersecurity
More and more companies are asking how to invest in cybersecurity, as the industry looks to be the only area of U.S. defense spending that will escape the looming budget cuts slated for March 1.
As Money Morning Executive Editor William Patalon III explained in his recent report, "The Cyber-Hacking of America," the booming interest in cyber-defense stems from the increasing number of threats targeting the United States.
Patalon said the intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate, used to brief lawmakers, found "the U.S. is the target of a massive, sustained, cyber-espionage campaign."
A separate report released last week by Virginia-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant Corp. found a Chinese military unit was behind cyberattacks on at least 141 organizations since 2006.
"We know that the U.S. Federal Reserve has been hacked, we know that The New York Times has been hacked, and that's just the beginning," said Patalon. "This is going to be a major, major story and something that investors need to watch."
China's Cyber Attacks on the United States Will Only Get Worse
Sometimes the truth is scarier than fiction, like in the case of China's cyber attacks on the United States.
In what reads more like a crime novel than a true story, a report released today (Tuesday) from Virginia-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant, a specific Chinese military unit is likely behind one of the largest cyber attacks aimed at American corporations and infrastructure.
China's Unit 61398, housed in a 12-story building in Shanghai with a headcount in the hundreds, is being accused of stealing "hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations" since 2006. Some 115 targets in 20 different industrial sectors from energy and aerospace to transportation to financial institutions are said to have been violated.
The investigation tracked, for the first time, individual members of the savviest Chinese hacking group, dubbed "Comment Crew" and "Shanghai Group," directly to the military unit's headquarters. While Mandiant couldn't pinpoint the hackers' exact whereabouts inside the high-rise, the firm very convincingly makes the case that the building is where the attacks originated.
"Once [Unit 61398] has established access [to a target network], they periodically revisit the victim's network over several months or years and steal broad categories of intellectual property, including technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, and emails and contacts lists from victim organizations' leadership," the detailed 74-page report reads.
American officials also confirmed that digital forensic evidence presented by Mandiant leads to the Shanghai building as the prime source of the attacks, according to The New York Times, which first reported on Mandiant's findings Monday. Mandiant is the same firm The Times secured to investigate the cyber attacks that infiltrated their own systems in China last month.
The Chinese government adamantly denies the allegations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a press conference the claims in the Mandiant report were unsupported.
"To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional. Cyberattacks are anonymous and transnational, and it is hard to trace the origin of attacks, so I don't know how the findings of the report are credible," The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Cyber-Hacking of America Is Going to Cost Us Big Time
We've been warning for some time now that cybersecurity would emerge as one of the top issues to track.
Indeed, in column we published on February 1st , we even predicted that the cyber-hacking of America - especially from China, Russia and Iran - would turn into one of the top stories of 2013.
And that's precisely how it's turning out.
Fed Hack Attack Highlights Growing Need for Cybersecurity
Not even the ultra-secretive U.S. Federal Reserve has been spared from aggressive cyberattacks - making cybersecurity an even bigger concern in 2013 than before.
The central bank acknowledged this week it was the victim of a "hack attack" after the group Anonymous claimed responsibility in a Tweet on Super Bowl Sunday.
"The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," the Fed said in a statement. "Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. The incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system."
Anonymous claimed it had compromised 4,000 bankers' credentials on a private computer system the Fed uses to communicate with bankers in emergencies such as natural disasters and potential acts of terrorism.
Hackers also are believed to have accessed private information including data on banks the government agency oversees as well as Fed forecasts for future economic policy actions.
The Fed said all those affected by the breach had been contacted.
The cyberattack underscores the importance of cybersecurity at a time when high-profile attacks have grown more common.
Just a few days after the Super Bowl Sunday attack, Internet security company McAfee reported a hacking operation spanning at least five years had targeted 72 governments, corporations and organizations, 49 of them in the United States.
What McAfee dubbed "Operation Shady Rat" hit government agencies at the federal, state and county level and compromised classified government information.
Reuters reported organizations hacked in the attack included the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the International Olympic Committee.
Other targeted organizations included those in defense, electronics, computer security, information technology, news media, and communications technology sectors.
How the Pentagon Aims to Stop China's Cyber-Hacking of America
Given the deficit fears and budget skirmishes that are focus of the moment down in Washington, it's tough to get excited about defense-related investments right now.
Defense outlays are destined to shrink.
But there's one area where spending is slated to go up ...
And I mean go way up.
I'm talking, of course, about defense-related spending that will promote cybersecurity and combat cyber-terrorism.