Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Chances are, your sensitive health-related data is probably floating around in cyber space right now.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean a hacker is going to steal that data and post it for all the world to see…
But it does highlight the vulnerability of the roughly one-trillion dollars’ worth of patient-care data that’s susceptible to criminal activity.
A recent report by an esteemed medical journal found that, over the past twelve years or so, a whopping 297 million health-care records have been compromised. This explains the need for health-related cyber security, a sector Allied Market Research projects will be worth seventy-eight billion dollars by 2030.
How can we profit from this situation?
I’ve uncovered a cyber leader in this sector that specializes in protecting health-related data…
And I expect its earnings to soon double...
The report on compromised healthcare records came from the HIPAA Journal, which compiled federal data on all healthcare cyber-breaches between October 2009 through June 2022.
Not only did this data reveal that nearly ninety-five percent of the U.S. population has had its healthcare data affected. But even more discouraging is the fact that the number of these types of cyber-attacks is increasing.
In 2018, breaches affecting 500 or more healthcare records were being reported once a day. Four years later, that rate has doubled.
Last year, there were more healthcare-related cyber-security breaches than ever before. And this year could also set records.
How have things gotten so bad?
To start, the increased adoption of electronic health records has provided hackers with more targets.
And keep in mind: the number may look worse than ever simply because we know about the majority of attacks today. Enhanced IT security has improved our ability to detect and report breaches.
In fact, as I was reading the report from HIPPA Journal, I came across a story in the Washington Post.
CommonSpirit Health, America’s second-largest non-profit hospital chain, suffered an attack so damaging, it had to reschedule patient appointments. It had to shut down its electronic health-record systems. It even had to divert ambulances to other hospitals.
In this case, hackers used an attack called ransomware. This tactic involves hackers gaining access to a system, encrypting the network to keep everyone out, then demanding payment in exchange for returning access. In effect, hackers hold the data or the network ransom, hence the term ransomware.
If this type of attack sounds familiar, it’s because several hospitals fell victim to it during Covid.
So did Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the U.S. This facility supplies much of the gasoline and jet fuel to Southeast America. And the 2021 attack threatened to cut off gasoline supplies to drivers. (It also received heavy media coverage, likely emboldening even more hackers.)
This is a scary problem. But as I mentioned, certain companies are focused on solutions…
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) offers a range of cybersecurity tools and solutions, including hardware with built-in security and sophisticated software to help prevent attacks and repair any damage.
But what sets this company apart from the competition is its focus on helping organizations with massive, complex networks.
Palo Alto has developed its own cybersecurity Artificial Intelligence platform called Cortex, which continuously scans a company’s networks for signs of intrusions. Notably, two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies use Cortex to defend themselves.
Over the last three years, Palo Alto has acquired ten cybersecurity companies at a total cost of nearly three-and-a-half billion dollars. The latest deal happened earlier this year, when it paid $195 million for Cider Security, a company specializing in securing software from third-parties, and ensuring no subcontractors can sneak in damaging code.
With more companies forced to rely on software sourced from the outside to compete on the cloud, securing the software supply-chain is massively important. After all, every piece of software, however small, can potentially open the gates for hackers.
That’s why Palo Alto’s latest acquisition fits in with the company’s emphasis on securing the largest networks. Its Prisma Access platform, for example, secures web and other apps in the cloud for almost one-third of Fortune 100 companies.
With cyber threats on the rise, it’s no wonder Palo Alto just reported some stellar earnings.
In the most recent quarter, earnings shot up fifty-one percent from the year before, coming in at eighty-three cents a share. Sales, meanwhile, grew twenty-five percent to $1.6 billion. (For reference, Wall Street analysts expected per-share earnings of only sixty-nine cents, and $1.5 billion in sales.)
Moving forward, Palo Alto expects to make seventy-seven cents per share through January, considerably higher than projections of seventy cents.
That being said, the company’s fifty-one percent earnings increase was well above its three-year average of thirty-one percent…
So to be conservative, let’s stick with the thirty-one percent number. If Palo Alto continues to grow at that thirty-one percent rate, earnings would double in less than two-and-a-half years.
As you can see, Palo Alto is a great short-term play.
And in our “Trade of the Day,” I’ll reveal why this company’s profit potential could be even higher. Check it out before it’s too late.
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Cheers and Good Investing,
Chief Investment Officer
Trend Trader Daily