Equifax, one of the three largest American credit agencies, said Thursday, Sept. 7, that the information of roughly 143 million U.S. consumers, about 44% of the U.S. population, could have been compromised because of a cybersecurity attack executed by criminal hackers. Equifax shares plunged more than 14% on Friday morning.
The attack, however, has sent shares of cybersecurity firms upward Friday. Shares of the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security ETF, an exchange-traded fund tracking the cyber security sector, were climbing 1.2% Friday morning.
Shares of Symantec Corporation (SYMC) - Get Report were spiking over 5%, while shares of FireEye (FEYE) - Get Report were up over 2%. Shares of Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report were also rising over 2% in Friday morning trading, and shares of Check Point Software Technologies (CHKP) - Get Report were up over 1.3%. Other cyber security firms on the move up include Fortinet (FTNT) - Get Report , higher over 1.2%, and Barracuda Networks (CUDA) , up 0.6%.
High-profile breaches like the one at Equifax provide a solid "tailwind for the sentiment around security," Evercore analyst Ken Talanian told TheStreet. It may also spur companies to go out and spend more to fortify their cybersecurity infrastructure, he added.
But ultimately, "I think it's another reminder that cybersecurity issues are critical to all companies, Talanian noted. "In particular, when you're talking about a company that is responsible for monitoring credit of millions of people, I think it shows how damaging a breach like this can have across the country."
Furthermore, large scale data hacks are a humbling reminder to the management of both public and private companies to "stay on top" of their cyber security initiatives, Talanian said.
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