Cybersecurity firm Symantec says hackers infiltrated power grid controls in America and abroad

Attempts by hackers to break into the energy sector in the US and abroad have made headlines in recent months.

According to a report by the cybersecurity firm Symantec, hackers have now successfully infiltrated power grid controls in the US and Turkey, and gained access to systems “that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations,” the report reads.

The recent campaign of attacks was waged by a group Symantec is calling Dragonfly 2.0. The security firm did not link the hacking group to any nation-state actors, but noted that some of the code string in the malware used in the attacks was in Russian and French.

Russia has been linked to massive blackouts in Ukraine on two separate occasions.

The hacking group penetrated dozens of power companies in the US and beyond, according to Symantec security analyst Eric Chien.

“Out of [the dozens compromised] we’ve seen a handful where it’s clear that they’re [compromised] on the operational side,” Chien says. “This the most concerning part of what we found.”

Chien says that level of access on the operational side — access that hackers could use to cause massive power blackouts — is unprecedented in the US.

“We’re unaware of [hackers] getting this level of access on this scale,” Chien said. “We’re not just talking about … one organization, but multiple [hacked] organizations within the US.”

Symantec did not provide the names of companies affected, but Chien says his firm reached out to dozens of energy companies that may have been hit.

“Unfortunately remediation in this case isn’t that simple. Typically you would just simply be imaging machines to remove the malicious software and sort of move on,” Chien said. “But in this case, the actors were going heavily after credentials so even if you do that, they still actually might have things like usernames and passwords and being able to get back into these systems.”


3 Hot Cybersecurity Stocks in Focus Post Equifax Inc. (EFX) Data Breach

Cybersecurity stocks were seen soaring last Friday, after Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX) reported a massive data breach. Per the company, highly sensitive personal data of approximately 143 million consumers has been stolen from its database. Reportedly, nearly two-third of the adult U.S. population has been affected due to this cyber attack.

3 Hot Cybersecurity Stocks in Focus Post Equifax Inc. (EFX) Data Breach

The company late last Thursday announced that a data breach occurred between mid-May and July this year, which was discovered on Jul 29. Apart from some sensitive personal information, hackers have stolen credit card numbers of about 209,000 U.S. consumers and “certain dispute documents with personal identifying information” of nearly 182,000 U.S. consumers.

This is not the first instance when consumer data has been stolen from a company’s data base. However, sensitivity of the information exposed in Equifax’s data breach case makes it one of the worst in recent times. The latest data breach at the company will likely have a lasting impact as criminals can use the stolen resources for opening new accounts, applying for credit cards or loans, buying insurance, renting an apartment or even for tax frauds.

Shares of Equifax plunged nearly 14% last Friday after news of the cyber attack surfaced.

Cybersecurity Stocks Soar

The recent cyber attack at Equifax proved that most organizations across the world lack proper security measures.

Nonetheless, believe it or not, there is a positive side to this episode.  A cyber attack is good news for cybersecurity companies because it increases the chances of security-related purchases by the companies and governments. Hence, investors flock to these shares, shooting up share prices.

Equifax’s Thursday’s announcement gave a sharp boost to cybersecurity stocks, particularly identity protection security providers.

Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC), which has been enhancing its identity-theft protection capabilities through acquisitions like LifeLock, gained the most with its shares witnessing a 3.4% rise.

This was followed by FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE), which is specialized in providing web security, email security, file security and malware analysis. The stock gained 1.5% last Friday.

Another cybersecurity company, Proofpoint Inc (NASDAQ:PFPT), went up 5.8% during trading hours. But it lost its momentum later to close at just 0.3% higher. The company is one of the leading security-as-a-service providers and focuses on cloud-based solutions for threat protection, compliance, archiving & governance, and secure communications.

Fresh Boost for Security Stocks

So far, the year 2017 has witnessed massive cyber attacks, including the two ransomware attacks — WannaCrypt or WannaCry in May and Petya in June — which created global havoc. However, the silver lining to this entire episode will be the further rise in demand for security-related products among enterprises and governments across the world. This is anticipated to drive share prices to new highs in the rest of 2017.

Furthermore, with rapid technological advancement, organizations are increasingly adopting the “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy to enhance employee productivity with anytime/anywhere access. This trend, in turn, calls for stricter data security measures.

We believe the urgency for stricter security measures will compel enterprises, as well as governments to increase spending on cyber security software. According to a Markets and Markets report, worldwide cybersecurity spending will likely reach $101 billion in 2018 and $170 billion by 2020.

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Cybersecurity could be state’s next high tech job growth field | Editorial

First there was the FBI CJIS facility that brought 3,000 jobs to North Central West Virginia, which has forever changed and diversified the region’s economy.

Then came the development at the High-Tech park in Fairmont with 1,500 jobs, including such names as: Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. FirstEnergy Corp., Lockheed Martin, ManTech International Corporation, Northrop Grumman, TASC Inc., TRAX International Corporation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The I-79 Technology Park is home to the West Virginia Community and Technical College System’s North Central Advanced Technology Center (ATC), bringing a valuable high-tech academic component to the NCWV economy.

Next up was the FBI’s Biometrics Center of Excellence, located next to the CJIS facility, which opened in 2015. It is the FBI’s program for exploring and advancing the use of new and enhanced biometric technologies and capabilities for integration into operations. Every day, the BCOE strives to deliver state-of-the-art biometric tools and technologies to law enforcement and intelligence personnel working around the world.

Now in an increasingly hostile world rife with cyberattacks from foreign governments and terrorists alike, the fastest growing and in-demand field is cybersecurity.

“We ought to be the cybersecurity center of the country,” West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said last week while appearing in Huntington during a discussion about economic development.

“We have the FBI… We have cyber crime facilities. We are just far enough away from Washington to be safe, but we are still within their driving distance.”

One trick is, others are noticing this potential, too. A recent Reuters headline described “Flush times for hackers in booming cybersecurity job market.”

The nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education last month predicted a global shortage of 1.8 million skilled security workers in 2022, the Reuters article noted. The group, which credentials security professionals, said that a third of hiring managers plan to boost their security teams by at least 15 percent.

Several of West Virginia’s higher education institutions, including WVU, have been laying the groundwork to meet the needs of the burgeoning cybersecurity industry.

Students may learn a range of skills — from gathering digital evidence after a crime has been committed online to providing better defense against malevolent online probes.

High employer demand, fabulous salaries, great promotion prospects — what’s not to love about cybersecurity? According to data compiled by Burning Glass, postings for cybersecurity jobs grew 74 percent in the past decade — two times faster than other IT positions.

Cybersecurity analysts help prevent attacks through their expertise and knowledge of databases, networks, hardware, firewalls and encryption. Cybersecurity analysts may also regulate access to computer files, develop firewalls, perform risk assessments and test data processing systems to verify security measures.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this profession to grow at a rate of 18 percent through 2024. The median annual salary for these positions is $90,000.

With low costs and a trained workforce, West Virginia could be an attractive place for companies in cybersecurity to do business. We proved it with the FBI CJIS facility. We proved it with the Biometrics Center. Now, it’s time to prove it by developing NCWV as a national cybersecurity hub, as well.

Why investors are betting on this cybersecurity stock

With cyber attacks surging worldwide, corporate and government demand for digital security is high — and only going higher, most experts say.

“Digital attacks on entities are increasing in term of volume and sophistication,” notes Scott Kessler, senior equity analyst at CFRA. Indeed, one in 131 emails last year was malicious, up from one in 220 previously, according to Symantec (SYMC), which provides security products and services to help corporations and governments cope with cyber attacks. It notes that 689 million people around the world were victims of cybercrime last year, and that every two seconds someone is victimized by identity theft.

So shares of Symantec have been on the rise, climbing to more than $31 a share from around $20 a year ago. CFRA’s Kessler upgraded the stock to a “strong buy” from “hold” when it recently dipped due to concerns related to quarterly results posted in May, along with longer-term worries about growth and execution. Kessler, however, sees “considerable potential for improving fundamentals and performance, especially in light of corporate transaction and management changes completed since the beginning of last year.”

Kessler believes Symantec, through a variety of offerings, addresses the needs of companies and government to combat the surging tide of cyber attacks. The company estimates the total potential market for its products and services at $75 billion — $67 billion for enterprise security and $10 billion for consumer digital safety. In the 2017 fiscal year that ended March 31, Symantec generated $4 billion in revenue. 

To bolster its products and performance, Symantec has undergone a significant transformation since the beginning of last year, notes Kessler, including the $4.7 billion purchase of Blue Coat, a provider of advanced web-security solutions for global enterprises and governments. And in February, Symantec spent $2.3 billion to acquire LifeLock, a provider of identity theft protection services for consumers and companies that serve consumers. 

Zacks Equity Research has urged its clients to add Symantec to their portfolio, noting that the stock’s momentum should continue after rising sharply year-to-date. The investment research outfit ranks the stock No 2 among the stocks it rates as a buy, with an estimated long-tern earnings growth rate of 10.3%.

Zacks points out that Symantec’s stock remains attractive despite its sharp rise since last year, trading at a price-earnings multiple of 27.5, significantly lower than the Zacks I.T. industry average of 36.3 times. Zacks notes that Symantec provides a wide range of content security and information-backup services. Moreover, the company’s mobile- and cloud-security offerings are gradually gaining market acceptance, according to Zacks. 

One of its recent acquisitions is Skycure, an Israel-based company that complements Symantec’s services to protect against mobile threats and malwares across multiple platforms like Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows, and Google Android.

At Barclays, equity analyst Saket Kalia has upgraded Symantec to “overweight,” noting that the company has become more competitive in the enterprise market. He has a price target of $38 a share for the stock.

CFRA’s Kessler expects gross margins to the 2019 fiscal year to be around 84% to 85%, a level that hasn’t been seen at Symantec since the 2013 fiscal year. He says EBITDA margins widened notably in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years but he sees a narrowing in the current 2018 fiscal year, given continuing investments and the pricey purchases of Blue Coat and LifeLock. But Kessler sees further margin expansion in the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years.

Kessler figures Symantec will earn $1.78 a share in fiscal 2018, rising to $2.03 in fiscal 2019. It posted a loss in fiscal 2017. He has a 12-month price target of $36 a share, seeing revenue rising 24% in fiscal 2018, up from a 16% gain in fiscal 2017.

So for investors concerned about cyber attacks and hackings, Symantec might help provide relief — and rewards.   

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Symantec buys Israeli cybersecurity startup to boost defence platform

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Will this acquisition secure Symantec’s position as an industry leader?

Symantec has acquired Israeli cybersecurity startup Fireglass, strengthening its Integrated Cyber Defence Platform.

Fireglass specialises in a cybersecurity solution that uses agentless isolation in real time. This technology targets ransomware, phishing and malware, by aiming to stop it from reaching the network or endpoints.

The move is intended to bolster Symantec’s Secure Web Gateway and its email protection across both cloud, and on premise.

Another intended benefit of the Fireglass software is its ability to reduce the pressure on overwhelmed professionals manning the IT help desk, and on the security operations center (SOC).

The cybersecurity startup provides this using browser isolation, which provides assurance to customers as activity such as clicking on malicious links or accessing dangerous websites is done within a separate environment.

Symantec CEO, Greg Clark said: “Integrating Fireglass’ isolation technology with Symantec’s existing endpoint, email and secure web gateway sSymantec buys Israeli cybersecurity startup to boost defence platformolutions could reduce security events by as much as 70 percent, while virtually eliminating advanced threats spread by web browsing or email content. Isolation will become a core component in the design of cyber defense architectures for the cloud generation who face the reality of an encrypted Internet and the crisis inherent in email and web-delivered attacks.

“The ability for the security team to take an aggressive stance on unknown websites and questionable attachments without causing chaos for a company’s users and IT help desk is now a reality. Isolation is a key element of securing the cloud generation and is even a productivity gain for both the end user and security operations center,” said Clark.

With cloud providing free flowing movement and accessing of critical files, it is prime time for a technology to come along that provides an overarching layer of protection to prevent common cyber threats, such as that provided by this cybersecurity startup.

Guy Guzner, Founder and CEO of Fireglass, said, “We’ve long admired Symantec for their leadership in protecting customers’ critical information. Fireglass’ industry-leading isolation technology helps customers battle zero-day attacks and other serious vulnerabilities, making it an essential element for protecting email, messaging and web browsing. It easily integrates with existing security solutions and across all forms of the endpoint including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and all others including browser-enabled IoT devices. With Symantec’s global scale, we’re excited to bring this groundbreaking technology into the hands of more customers.”

Industry leader Symantec has made other high profile purchases in recent years, including Blue Coat Inc in 2015 for $4.65 billion, and Lifelock Inc for $2.3 billion earlier this year.

READ MORE: Microsoft acquires cyber security automation firm Hexadite

Ramin Safai, CISO of Jefferies Group LLC  said: “The pairing of browser isolation with Symantec’s proxy and endpoint capabilities forms a generational change in approach. Our tests show promise for meaningful reductions in attack surface and time-consuming security events… I applaud Symantec for focusing on tangible security outcomes – it’s precisely what the industry needs.”

Symantec to buy Israeli cybersecurity firm Fireglass

By Liana B. Baker
| SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity startup Fireglass, the company said on Thursday, in a small deal designed to boost its products that protect corporate email and web browsing from threats.

Symantec is paying an undisclosed sum for the Tel Aviv-based company of about 40 employees. Fireglass specializes in an area of security called “browser isolation,” a technology that creates virtual websites allowing users to browse any content without having viruses touch their network.

“Browser isolation” is an area that Symantec had been looking to enter for some time, Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview. He cited a Gartner report that projected that 50 percent of enterprises would adopt browser isolation by 2021.

Healthcare companies, financial institutions, government and telecommunications firms have been early adopters of the technology, he said.

“While it’s what I would call a ‘tuck-in’ acquisition, it will be very valuable to us as we bring it to our customers,” Clark said.

Symantec has been one of the most serial acquirers in security companies in recent years, gobbling up Lifelock Inc for $2.3 billion earlier this year and Blue Coat Inc for $4.65 billion in 2015.

The deal will also increase the company’s footprint in Israel, a hotbed for cybersecurity, where Clark said Symantec has been looking to expand. Israel, which has more than 400 cybersecurity startups, attracts about 20 percent of private global cyber investment, Reuters has reported.

Large U.S. technology companies often go “shopping” in Israel when they are looking for acquisitions and engineering talent. Last month, Microsoft (MSFT.O) agreed to acquire Hexadite, a U.S.-Israeli provider of technology to automate responses to cyber attacks for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of the calendar year.

Fireglass, founded in 2014 by a former Check Point Software Technologies (CHKP.O) executive, was backed by investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. It had raised $20 million in early 2016 and competes with Menlo Security.

(This version of the story corrects Symantec’s CEO surname from Brown to Clark throughout)

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Symantec Buys Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Fireglass

Symantec is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity startup Fireglass, the company said on Thursday, in a small deal designed to boost its products that protect corporate email and web browsing from threats.

Symantec is paying an undisclosed sum for the Tel Aviv-based company of about 40 employees. Fireglass specializes in an area of security called “browser isolation,” a technology that creates virtual websites allowing users to browse any content without having viruses touch their network.

“Browser isolation” is an area that Symantec had been looking to enter for some time, Chief Executive Greg Brown said in an interview. He cited a Gartner report that projected that 50% of enterprises would adopt browser isolation by 2021.

Health care companies, financial institutions, government, and telecommunications firms have been early adopters of the technology, he said.

“While it’s what I would call a ‘tuck-in’ acquisition, it will be very valuable to us as we bring it to our customers,” Brown said.

Symantec has been one of the most serial acquirers in security companies in recent years, gobbling up Lifelock for $2.3 billion earlier this year and Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in 2015.

The deal will also increase the company’s footprint in Israel, a hotbed for cybersecurity, where Brown said Symantec has been looking to expand. Israel, which has more than 400 cybersecurity startups, attracts about 20% of private global cyber investment, Reuters has reported.

Large U.S. technology companies often go “shopping” in Israel when they are looking for acquisitions and engineering talent. Last month, Microsoft agreed to acquire Hexadite, a U.S.-Israeli provider of technology to automate responses to cyber attacks for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of the calendar year.

Fireglass, founded in 2014 by a former Check Point Software Technologies executive, was backed by investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. It had raised $20 million in early 2016 and competes with Menlo Security.

Symantec to buy Israeli cybersecurity firm Fireglass | Reuters

By
|
SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity startup Fireglass, the company said on Thursday, in a small deal designed to boost its products that protect corporate email and web browsing from threats.

Symantec is paying an undisclosed sum for the Tel Aviv-based company of about 40 employees. Fireglass specializes in an area of security called “browser isolation,” a technology that creates virtual websites allowing users to browse any content without having viruses touch their network.

“Browser isolation” is an area that Symantec had been looking to enter for some time, Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview. He cited a Gartner report that projected that 50 percent of enterprises would adopt browser isolation by 2021.

Healthcare companies, financial institutions, government and telecommunications firms have been early adopters of the technology, he said.

“While it’s what I would call a ‘tuck-in’ acquisition, it will be very valuable to us as we bring it to our customers,” Clark said.

Symantec has been one of the most serial acquirers in security companies in recent years, gobbling up Lifelock Inc for $2.3 billion earlier this year and Blue Coat Inc for $4.65 billion in 2015.

The deal will also increase the company’s footprint in Israel, a hotbed for cybersecurity, where Clark said Symantec has been looking to expand. Israel, which has more than 400 cybersecurity startups, attracts about 20 percent of private global cyber investment, Reuters has reported.

Large U.S. technology companies often go “shopping” in Israel when they are looking for acquisitions and engineering talent. Last month, Microsoft (MSFT.O) agreed to acquire Hexadite, a U.S.-Israeli provider of technology to automate responses to cyber attacks for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of the calendar year.

Fireglass, founded in 2014 by a former Check Point Software Technologies (CHKP.O) executive, was backed by investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. It had raised $20 million in early 2016 and competes with Menlo Security.

(This version of the story corrects Symantec’s CEO surname from Brown to Clark throughout)

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Inside Symantec’s bid to build the Amazon of cybersecurity tools | Networks Asia

If Sheila Jordan and the rest of Symantec’s senior leadership team complete their vision they will transform the company into the Amazon.com of cybersecurity, essentially a one-stop shop where CIOs and consumers alike can buy digital tools to protect their data assets. The Symantec CIO is deploying her IT department’s resources to help build out a software subscription platform for SaaS applications, part of a broader strategy to deliver solutions that are more in line with the evolving purchasing preferences of CIOs and CISOs.

“We want it to be like an Amazon experience where with a handful of clicks you can book your cloud security subscription,” Jordan tells CIO.com.

The idea isn’t so far-fetched. Although CIOs have been implementing third-party cybersecurity tools on-premises for decades, the trend has increasingly skewed toward SaaS. Spending on global cloud security solutions is expected to top $3.4 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent over the next five years, according to new data from Forrester Research.

The commercial move marks a surprising turn for Jordan, whom Symantec lured away from Cisco in 2014 to help insource the software maker’s IT systems. Then Symantec, sensing seismic shifts in cybersecurity, began a radical overhaul of its business. It sold off Veritas to Carlyle Group for $8 billion and purchased Internet gateway security company Blue Coat Systems in August 2016 and identity theft protection firm LifeLock earlier this year.

From best-of-breed to integrated platform

Jordan, who built her reputation as a change agent in IT roles at Cisco Systems and Walt Disney World, went from divesting one large business to integrating two large organizations, working with the business to tuck Blue Coat into Symantec’s enterprise security unit and LifeLock into the company’s consumer product group.

Symantec remains the top security software vendor, generating roughly $3.4 billion in sales last year, according to a recent Gartner report. To maintain and boost its lead over Intel, IBM and others Symantec needs to update its portfolio to offer cloud services and machine learning software to anticipate threats. Symantec’s senior leadership believes offering CIOs a unified defense platform to blanket the corporate network is the best play.

Cybersecurity vendors have traditionally sold point solutions to enterprises, confusing CIOs with a fragmented, best-of-breed approach to their markets. This strategy leaves gaps in corporate networks, Jordan says, adding that an integrated platform protecting corporate IT from the Internet gateway out to endpoint devices is a safer play for CIOs and their CISOs.

“When you have an integrated platform approach you’re eliminating the white spaces and the opportunity for bad guys to come in and hang out for awhile,” Jordan says.

In pursuit of its singular platform, Symantec is streamlining its market strategy, reducing the number of SKUs to simplify pricing, creating consistent channel contracts and consolidating the salesforce. “We want to clean house and make sure that we’re integrating and transforming our business processes,” Jordan says.

A cornerstone of Symantec’s unified defense strategy is the Symantec Subscription Platform, through which the company offers cloud subscriptions in per user, per virtual machine, per license and per seat options, thanks to its integration with SaaS subscription vendor Zuora. Symantec’s Endpoint Protection Cloud and Cloud Workload Protection SaaS products are already live on the platform, with additional products coming over the course of the year, Jordan says.

Symantec is also using APIs to sell its software through other channels. For example, Symantec just launched Cloud Workload Protection on AWS Marketplace. Customers can initiate a CWP subscription from AWS, register with Symantec through the global subscription platform and then get billed through a consolidated AWS invoice based on their CWP hourly usage.

Symantec believes its platform has great potential for cross-selling opportunities. By analyzing information about application usage, customer purchase history and other behaviors, Symantec can ascertain intent and make product recommendations to customers. The potential to emulate the highly successful recommendations Amazon and Netflix offer for their Internet services isn’t lost on Jordan. “We are very bullish and excited about the subscription platform,” Jordan says.

Symantec’s strategic path

The strategic path to fulfilling the vision isn’t an easy one. To build the integrated unified defense platform, Jordan must work closely with product units to ensure that each product and solution is seamlessly stitched together so that the products properly share data.

Jordan says the challenge is hewing to the strategic plan without disrupting the business. She says the key lies in “chunking up” integrations for certain business units, then moving on to the next project. It’s a path Jordan says she’s comfortable with because, as a CIO with a broad view of the business, she can anticipate how a change to one aspect of the business will impact another.

“It’s a juggling act but if we do this effectively and we can take out some of the inefficiencies in the business processes and just get it done as smooth and as fast as we can it’s going to become a competitive advantage for the company,” Jordan says. “We’re in a position to help the business reach its strategic goals.”

Jordan laid the foundation for these commercial efforts over the past few years, building a private cloud and software-defined data center using technology from Cisco, Network Appliance and Verizon. These systems automate and partition operations into several parts to allow business managers to access their own compute and networking systems.

IT also eliminated 400 legacy applications and shuttered 3,000 servers. And it moved 85 apps into the private cloud and the rest into software-as-a-service solutions from Box, Salesforce.com, Oracle’s Eloqua, Workday, Cisco’s WebEx and other vendors.