What does the new administration mean for Wall Street? Jim Cramer's first reaction to the election is live on TheStreet's Facebook page tomorrow morning at 8 am ET. He joins our team of reporters along with experts and analysts tracking the markets with us.
Although a fraudulent election could permanently wound the U.S. democratic process, the threat of voter hacking could benefit the stocks of cyber security companies such as FireEye (FEYE) , Fortinet (FTNT) and CyberArk Software (CYBR) .
First, though, it's important to note that election hacking isn't very likely. The Brennan Center for Justice argues that you're less likely to be a victim of voter fraud than you are to be struck by lightning -- a one-in-700,000 probability this year.
Voter hacking is still one of the major concerns in the 2016 election, though. Amid email hacks at the Democratic National Convention, Wikileaks document leaks and numerous threats of state-sponsored breaches, Americans have some serious doubts that their votes will be safe -- so much so that more than 15 million voters may stay away from the booths today due to cyber security concerns, according to a recent survey.
Some of these fears might be warranted. In Pennsylvania specifically, electronic voting machines run on Microsoft's (MSFT) outdated Windows XP operating system, which the tech company hasn't issued an update for since 2014. Privately-owned cyber security company Carbon Black said that Pennsylvania could be a major target in today's election due to the state's high-risk voting infrastructure.
Concerns are so high that U.S. officials made a point to say today that the government is preparing to respond to a cyber-attack if necessary, NBC News reports.
Milpitas, CA-based FireEye, Sunnyvale, CA-based Fortinet and Newton, MA-based CyberArk are just a few of the cyber-security names that could be thrust into the spotlight Tuesday if hacking fears become a reality.
Morningstar analyst Ilya Kundozerov said that security companies tend to benefit from the hacking and breaching reports that crop up nearly every day. "Generally speaking, this effect is more pronounced with FireEye than Fortinet as [FireEye] is known to have a top forensics investigation team," Kundozerov said.
Security concerns in the election might not have as much of an effect on these companies as it is having on voters' minds, however, as hacking has become a part of everyday life, Kundozerov noted. "Overall, [the] election is just a single event, while cyber security breaches occur every day in a business world."
Indeed, Tesco (TSCDY) , Britain's largest supermarket chain, suffered a major breach of 40,000 customer accounts at its online banking over the past weekend, causing its shares to drop sharply on Monday.
Dougherty Markets analyst Catharine Trebnick said that cyber security stocks have already benefited from breach concerns during this election cycle. But this is already priced into their shares, Trebnick noted.
Regardless of what hacking may or may not take place today, cyber security is now a major topic of discussion that won't be going away soon.ff
Kundozerov said that national cyber defense is sure to become a focus for the next incoming resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and "any type of legislation on this matter will definitively push up cyber firms' valuations."
So even if hacking concerns today do little to boost cyber security stocks, be ready to hear more from them in upcoming months.
Fortinet is held in the Growth Seeker portfolio. See all of the holdings with a free trial.