Software Security Stocks: Will Growing Demand Raise Values?


Online data storage is an ever-growing industry, and the need to protect information from hackers is growing right along with it.

Making headlines
Many have heard of the impressive hacking capabilities of the group Anonymous, which recently made headlines for hacking SOPA supporters in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns.

Anonymous has been arguably witty about choosing their subjects, usually chosen for their connection to protests the group has undertaken. But these skilled hackers do not represent all hacking organizations.

Indeed, a recent scan of only last week's headlines will quickly highlight the serious online security issues threatening to everyday operations.

Federal concerns
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, recently announced it was hacked no less than 13 times last year. "Some NASA systems house sensitive information which, if lost or stolen, could result in significant financial loss, adversely affect national security, or significantly impair our nation's competitive technological advantage," said Paul Martin, the agency's inspector general (via Reuters). Consider that NASA spends $58 million of its $1.5 billion annual IT budget on cyber security.

FBI Director Robert Mueller claimed cybercrime is fast eclipsing terrorism as the bureau's top priority, reports CNNMoney. "Today, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyberattack, but we cannot underestimate their intent," Mueller said. He also noted the FBI now has a special cybersecurity squad in each of its 56 field offices and 1,000 dedicated agents and analysts working the Web beat.

On Friday morning, technical problems caused a temporary Internet blackout for a number of Defense Department personnel in the Washington, D.C. area and in the Midwest. Spokeswoman, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel April Cunningham said it was "not caused by any malicious activity." But the outage did affect thousands of Pentagon workers who require the Internet for their job functions.

Civilian concerns
Google recently offered "white-hat hackers" up to $1 million in rewards to anyone who can hack security in its Chrome web browser. The top individual prizes, up $60,000, will be delivered to anyone capable of identifying fully functional exploits "using only bugs in Chrome to deliver Windows 7 local OS user account persistence," reports The Inquirer.

Lastly, Tech Crunch discusses the gap between consumers who are ready for mobile wallets, and a market that claims to be unable to provide secure systems for it. Even retailers are eager to make mobile wallets a reality, to the point of developing their own mobile wallet systems. But TC's Sarah Perez calls foul: "The fight here is not about becoming the best mobile wallet provider, it's about owning the access to the customers' data that being a mobile wallet provider allows." Will customers feel secure entrusting this data to retailers? Probably not.

Business section: Investing ideas
So, how can you invest in the rising demand for superior online security?

We list below nine security software and services companies trading on the U.S. stock exchanges. Do you think any of these names will see an increased demand for their services and a rise in valuations? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. AsiaInfo-Linkage (NAS: ASIA) : Provides telecommunications software solutions and information technology (IT) products and services to telecommunications carriers and other enterprises in the People's Republic of China. Market cap of $927.31M.

2. Check Point Software Technologies: Develops, markets, and supports a range of software, and combined hardware and software products and services for information technology (IT) security applications worldwide. Market cap of $14.33B.

3. Sourcefire (NAS: FIRE) : Provides intelligent Cybersecurity solutions for information technology (IT); environments of commercial enterprises, such as health care, financial services, manufacturing, energy, education, retail, and telecommunications; and federal, state, and international government organizations worldwide. Market cap of $1.30B.

4. IntraLinks Holdings: Provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for securely managing content, exchanging critical business information, and collaborating within and among organizations worldwide. Market cap of $307.91M.

5. The KEYW Holding: Provides mission-critical cybersecurity and cyber superiority solutions to defense, intelligence, and national security agencies in the United States. Market cap of $184.83M.

6. ManTech International: Provides technologies and solutions for national security programs in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $1.23B.

7. Symantec (NAS: SYMC) : Provides security, storage, and systems management solutions to secure and manage information. Market cap of $12.94B.

8. VASCO Data Security International (NAS: VDSI) : The company has developed patented digital security hardware, software, and digital-signature technology. Market cap of $329.60M.

9. Wave Systems (NAS: WAVX) : Develops, produces, and markets products for hardware-based digital security. Market cap of $161.35M.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.

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