The Cyber Bear Roars

A cyberattack may be “the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country.” That’s according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Such attacks are already happening, and they are getting worse. Russia-backed hacking group Cozy Bear has been implicated in the most sophisticated and dangerous cyber-infiltration in U.S. history.

The “SolarWinds Corp. (NYSE: SWI) attack” was named for the Texas-based network-management software company at the nexus of the episode.

More than 18,000 of the company’s clients were breached, including U.S. government agencies and even — quite scarily — several companies that control America’s power grid.

It even penetrated the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) — which is supposed to be the chief guardian against such threats to U.S. critical infrastructure. Even cybersecurity vanguard FireEye, Inc. (Nasdaq: FEYE) was a victim.

And it gets even scarier …

Cyber spies apparently roamed undetected for most of last year through the National Nuclear Security Administration (responsible for U.S. nuclear weapons) … the Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (responsible for the electric grid) … and defense contractors designing our most advanced weaponry.

Sen. Mitt Romney likened it to a situation in which “Russian bombers have been repeatedly flying undetected over our entire country.”

James Lewis, vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the assault may end up being the worst to ever hit the United States, eclipsing the 2014 hack of U.S. government personnel records in a suspected Chinese intrusion. He added … “We also don’t know what’s been left behind … so they can get back in, in the future.”

Yes, we’ll be lucky if the (still ongoing) attack is only for intelligence gathering … and not also a sabotage mission to plant “logic-bombs” and the like for future use.

Because cyber-attacks, not just by Russia, but by China and North Korea as well, have also been about “testing” U.S. response to 21st century warfare:

Coordinated electronic, space-based and terrestrial “blitzkrieg”.

Speaking of China …

People’s Liberation Army hackers are believed to be behind the epic 2017 attack on credit giant Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX), in which the personal information of over 147.9 million people was pilfered. And that could be just a trial run.

Nick Rossman, senior strategic threat intelligence manager at FireEye says: “China is likely in the process of a multi-year maturation of their cyber program with better organization, communication and execution. We anticipate an evolution in their organization, tools and tactics.”

Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security Dr. Peter Pry, warns that Washington’s pet solution, a global treaty, will NOT work, saying “Authoritarian regimes will sign anything and cheat on everything.”

It looks like the U.S. cybersecurity industry, which totals an estimated $150 billion in annual activity, is going to get a lot more business.

One cyber defense champion pinging loudly on my radar is tackling this challenge head on.

Its primary U.S. government customers include a “Who’s Who?” of civilian and military agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Army, the Navy and the nation’s intelligence gatherers. With a market-beating dividend and solid history of elevated Weiss Ratings, it looks like yet another solid investment in an era of heightened global tensions.

Its message to the cyberthugs: “Bring it on!”

And I NAME it in my special report, “American Heroes” … available to Wealth Megatrends subscribers only. If you’re not yet a member, click here now.

All the best,

Sean

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