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.To continue reading, please click here...
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.Read More...
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.Read More...
The Cybersecurity Investment Opportunity Everyone Is Missing
With cyber-attacks on U.S. corporations hitting more and more frequently, many investors have already realized that cybersecurity companies have a bright future.
But cybersecurity isn't the only business experiencing growth as a result of the rise in cyber-attacks.
As the attacks have increased, so have losses, creating an opportunity for insurance companies.
The Betterly Report, which tracks specialty insurance products, said in a report last year that it expected cyber-insurance premiums for 2012 to add up to about $1 billion in the U.S. alone.... Read More...
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.Read More...
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 for investors to track.
In a column we published on February 1st, we even predicted that the cyber-hacking of America would turn into one of the top stories of 2013. And that’s precisely how it’s turning out.
A brand-new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report has just concluded that the United States “is the target of a massive, sustained cyber-espionage campaign that is threatening the country’s economic competitiveness.”
Guess who the culprit is… Read More...
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.Read More...
How the Pentagon Aims to Stop China's Cyber-Hacking of America
Between deficit fears and budget skirmishes, 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.
Here at Money Morning, we've talked a lot about the massive surge in cybersecurity and cyber-terrorism spending that's destined to unfold in the years to come. Much of our focus has been on private-sector spending - although we also said the Pentagon and the rest of the federal government would also be factors.
Well, over the weekend, the Pentagon gave us a hefty reminder of why we're watching this sector so closely... Read More...
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.
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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."
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Cybersecurity Act Could Survive with Executive Order
The Senate shot down the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA2012) for a second time last Wednesday in a close 51-47 vote, leaving proponents to wonder if the bill is dead.
The Obama administration, however, is not quite ready to completely write off the act and looks ready to use whatever muscle it has to get the measure passed without full support. That's why the White House is likely to deliver an executive order to keep the act from disappearing.
"As tonight's vote in the Senate illustrates, the current prospects for a cybersecurity bill are limited. Congressional inaction in light of the risks to our nation may require the administration to issue an executive order as a precursor to the updated laws we need. We think the risk is too great for the Administration not to act," White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel said in a statement.
Daniel continued to state that the administration still believes "comprehensive legislation is needed to fully address the threat we face in cyberspace."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a speech in New York last month said cyberattacks by extremist groups could deliver as much destruction as Sept. 11. He has called the resulting damage from cyberattacks comparable to a "digital Pearl Harbor."
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These Teen Geniuses are on a Path to Change the World
He's barely old enough to shave... but Jack Andraka is already hard at work helping America win the war on cancer.
Just last month, the Baltimore-area whiz kid took top honors at a key contest hosted by Silicon Valley legend Intel Corp. (NasdaqGS: INTC). He invented a low-cost, cutting-edge cancer screen that could save thousands of lives every year.
Andraka now ranks as a rising star and radical change agent who could have a huge impact on high tech and medicine. He also pocketed a cool $100,000 in prize money.
And all at the ripe old age of 15...
He's one of the reasons why I say it pays to remain upbeat about America's future. He and these six other youngsters I'm about to tell you about demonstrate how much innate talent we have in this country, and I believe that's one reason why we can't help but succeed in the long run.
Don't get me wrong. America faces big challenges - rising debt, chronic job losses, and political gridlock, to name but a few.
Yet we're also the one country that steadily produces bright young entrepreneurs who change the world around them. Where others see obstacles, these teens see opportunities.
They go on to launch the Googles, Apples, and Microsofts of the world, and they leave a trail of wealth behind them.
As investors, we want to spot this talent before others do. That's how we maintain the inside edge that vaults us ahead of the pack when new investment opportunities come along.
Fact is, kids today may not be any smarter than the Edisons and Fords of their day. But in the Era of Radical Change, they have the tools - sensors, computers, software and more - that scientists of old could only dream about.
Today, I want to introduce you to the seven young geniuses who are pushing the limits of science and high tech.
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What is CISPA?
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has kept the Internet buzzing this week, leading many to ask, "What is CISPA?"
Basically, CISPA would allow companies and government agencies to share information they considered to be a "cyber threat" with other private companies or the government and not be penalized for such sharing.
The divisive cybersecurity legislation comes up for a vote in the House Friday, and civil liberties groups, Internet groups, and a swarm of political leaders are taking a strong stance against the bill.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) maintains CISPA is a serious threat to domestic privacy laws and threatens to undercut vital privacy protections.
The ACLU argues the bill is even more insidious than the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), stating that the legislation "would give the government, including military spy agencies, unprecedented powers to snoop through people's personal information--medical records, private emails, financial information-all without a warrant, proper oversight or limits."
Even the Obama Administration opposes the bill, siding with the Internet forces on this one. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would veto the bill if it passed in current form.
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Obama's Defense Cuts Mean More Mergers for Tech Investors
I can explain the impact of President Obama's new defense budget to investors in one word - mergers.
Indeed, the M&A field will remain a driving force in the defense sector for at least the next two years.
The good news for tech investors is that Obama's focus fits with the Pentagon's push for more high-tech breakthroughs.
We're talking about more drones instead of fighter jets and robots to replace troops for some tough jobs.
But don't gloss over information technology since it cuts through the entire supply chain.
Since World War II, the U.S. military has pursued high tech at a rapid pace.
However, that trend gained speed in recent years after the Pentagon rolled out the concept of making computers an even bigger part of our fighting forces.
You see, the top brass likes to call it "net-centric warfare." I know it sounds complex. But it really is very simple.
Here's the big idea: link every facet of defense to secure networks. Ideally, that means senior leaders could track every boat, bullet and bayonet on one computer screen.
Obama's Budget Cuts in a Modern WorldAnd now, new budget cuts mean the military must do more with less.
Today, we're facing a new Cold War with China, while at the same time we are cutting spending and reducing troop strength.
Here's what it all means for investors...
At least once a month, the CEO of a company with great tech realizes he needs more financial muscle to survive the leaner times.
That usually means selling to a larger firm.
So look for defense companies that have access to financing or enough cash to go on shopping sprees.
Just last month, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), revealed it bought a firm that provides autopilot and other devices for small drones.
I believe this is a shrewd purchase. After all, the military is clearly moving toward more unmanned aerial vehicles.
These UAVs come in a wide range of sizes and applications.
At one end we have the Predator drone. It's about the size of a private jet and receives heavy use by the U.S. against Al Qaeda terrorists.
Now just shrink that down to the size of a large insect and you have the new generation of drones. In the very near future these types of drones will find wide use in surveillance missions.
A high-tech team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is working on micro drones that look like bugs. They fit in the palm of your hand and are designed to find the enemy in tight urban terrain.
Cyber-security will also remain an active area for the Defense Department and Homeland Security. While Obama's budget for 2013 cuts 100,000 troops, it does emphasize cyber-operations.
Consider that on December 29 Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) said it is buying a small, privately held cyber-security firm. That was the second such merger in three weeks for Raytheon.
Those two Raytheon mergers occurred just weeks after the Pentagon said it reserves the right to respond to an attack on its computers with the use of force.
The field is attracting foreign interest as well. French giant EADS (EPA: EAD) says it wants in on the action and will buy firms to do so.
Though EADS hasn't said it will buy in the U.S., it's a good bet the company will at least look in America as it tries to balance out the sales of its jumbo jets.
On the other hand, not all the defense mergers will turn on high tech...
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