Coronavirus & Elections Pose Security Threats: 4 Cloud Bets

Coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 8 million people to date, globally, per John Hopkins university data, led to a spurt in usage of cloud services on the back of work-from-home, web-based learning and remote health diagnosis wave.

Markedly, the usage of cloud storage, collaboration apps, video conferencing and virtual meetings software increased exponentially in the past 100 days, ever since coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On the flip side, this growing usage of cloud-based services is aggravating security lapses, inducing risks of hacking and phishing mails in the garb of coronavirus as content of the subject.

Moreover, usage of own devices and equipment that are not properly configured or can be infected with malware during teleworking or accessing information to and fro from cloud further raises possible security breaches for enterprises.

November Elections Raise Further Concerns

The intensified cybersecurity risks certainly don’t bode well for the upcoming November polls, which are already dogged by foreign interference as well as disinformation and social media coverage to influence the public opinion.

Per a report by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, election officials face heightened security perils due to the COVID-19 crisis in the United States.

Notably, due to the pandemic, a number of election officials are expected to work remotely. Unsecured or ill-configured network will make them prone to security threats. Moreover, rising demand for online registration systems and mail ballot options from voters is a concern.

To fight security hazards, infrastructure upgrades are required. However, states and local authorities are suffering budget crunch due to the coronavirus woes.

Notably, Congress allocated $425 million to states for addressing concerns over election security in December 2019. Moreover, another $400-million fund was set aside as a part of the $2-trillion stimulus package announced in March 2020.

However, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is responsible for distributing election security funds to the states, allowed the regions to use the election resources to pay for disinfection and cleaning supplies.

Notably, Democrats allocated $3.6 billion for elections in a new stimulus package that the House had passed in May.

Hospitals & Research Institutes Hounded by Security Threats

Cybercriminals have been attacking hospitals and research institutes engaged in responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Per the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), government-backed hackers are targeting healthcare organizations to extract information about coronavirus research and other sensitive data.

In an open letter published by the CyberPeace Institute on May 26, world governments were urged to take an immediate and decisive action to prevent such intrusions.

Cybersecurity Stocks to Gain

Here we discuss four cloud security providers that are well-poised to benefit from the mounting threats. Moreover, higher federal cybersecurity spending proposed by President Donald Trump, a strong adoption of Zero Trust Approach and surging demand for IoT and Industrial security solutions are major drivers.

Apart from flaunting solid fundamentals, these four stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Year-to-Date Performance

Top Picks

Fortinet FTNT is gaining traction from deteriorating cyber-attack risks that are propelling demand for its FortiMail platform, which can be used to block specific file types containing certain keywords, such as those related to coronavirus. The company is also capable of sending attachments to the FortiSandbox solution to check whether the file displays any malicious activity.

Moreover, this Zacks #1 Ranked company’s latest FortiOS 6.4 helps it provide Zero-Trust Network Access that identifies and secures users and devices, on and off network. Further, it allows Office 365 security coverage through integrations with FortiMail and FortiCASB.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #1 company’s 2020 earnings stands at $2.81 per share, having moved 8.1% north over the past 60 days.

Zscaler ZS benefits from a steady buoyancy in demand for cloud security as the work-from-anywhere trend gains an impetus amid coronavirus-induced workspace disruption. This #1 Ranked company’s focus on penetrating large enterprises along with a recurring revenue model is a key catalyst.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings is pegged at 17 cents per share, having been revised 13.3% upward in the past 30 days.

Okta OKTA is benefiting from robust demand for identity management services globally, triggered by the work-from-home wave. Notably, Okta Identity Cloud platform offers a suite of applications that manage and secure identities. The company has a market cap of $22.33 billion.

Okta currently carries a Zacks Rank #2. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2021 is pegged at a loss of 19 cents per share, having narrowed from a loss of 35 cents in the past 30 days.

Trend Micro TMICY develops security solutions that offer protection from a wide range of insidious threats and combined raids including viruses, spam, phishing, spyware, botnets and other Web attacks like data-stealing malware. For instance, its tools — RansomwareFileDecryptor and TeslacryptDecryptor — can decrypt ransomware like Crypt variants, TeslaCrypt, AutoLocky, BadBlock et al. This stock carries a Zacks Rank #2.

The consensus mark for 2020 is pegged $1.92 per share, having moved 5.5% north in the past 30 days.

5 Stocks to Soar Past the Pandemic: In addition to the companies you learned about above, we invite you to learn about 5 cutting-edge stocks that could skyrocket from the exponential increase in demand for “stay at home” technologies. This could be one of the biggest buying opportunities of the decade.

See the 5 high-tech stocks now>>

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