The Cybersecurity Boom
How Investors Can Play the Global Explosion in Cyberattacks and Cybercrime
Thanks to Purefunds Cybersecurity ETF (HACK) for helping us put this together.
In 1983’s WarGames, a young Matthew Broderick unwittingly hacks into military central computer while searching for video games and almost inadvertently starts World War III. This film is classified on IMDB as in the “Sci-fi, Thriller” genres.
While the prospects of cybercrime and cyberterrorism are certainly thrilling (and scary), the descriptor of “Sci-fi” for the movie may no longer be necessary. In the last calendar year, there’s been dozens of high-profile cybersecurity incidents that are not a far cry from the geopolitical near-miss in WarGames.
The United States government and the country’s largest bank have both had serious security intrusions as of recent. This summer the United States Government revealed it had over 20 million records stolen by hackers allegedly based in China. Just as concerning, it was exactly one year ago that J.P. Morgan was compromised with records stolen from over 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. The company has now vowed to spend $250 million a year in preventing such incidents.
Most recent of all is this week’s hack of the popular adultery site Ashley Madison. The leak of sensitive information on potentially 37 million customers isn’t a potential geopolitical concern as the above cases, but it does have business implications: the website’s plan to raise $200 million in an IPO in London has now been kiboshed for the foreseeable future.
If big organizations like Sony, Target, Google, and Home Depot can’t do anything to stop cybersecurity incidents, what chance do the rest of us have?
And that’s the problem with cyberattacks. Detected incidents have skyrocketed over the last five years, soaring from 3.4 million to 42.8 million from 2009-2014, and they now cost the global economy an estimated $400 billion a year. Every day these incidents happen on a small scale, but today’s hacking technology and sophistication allows for much more. Exploitation of big cybersecurity vulnerabilities could cause financial chaos, destroy reputations of entire companies, expose business and state secrets, and even shut down moving vehicles remotely. This is not science fiction. This is reality – and we haven’t even gotten into the hypothetical potential damage that hackers could cause if they had even more resources or resolve. People’s lives and money are at stake.
Systems are more sensitive and hyperconnected than ever before, and hackers are deploying more sophisticated tactics to take advantage of them for personal or organizational gain. Luckily, there is also an entire industry of engineers, programmers, analysts, designers, cryptographers, and other professionals trying to build the walls and moat around the castle. Cybersecurity, as we depict in this infographic, is a booming industry with hundreds of companies scrambling to protect us from having intellectual property, health records, financial information, and other vital data compromised.
That’s why by 2020, the cybersecurity market is expected to be valued at $170.2 billion, which implies a 9.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from today’s estimate of $106.3 billion. Businesses and governments are spending more on cybersecurity: even the Whitehouse announced this year that in its 2016 fiscal budget that it would aim to spend $14 billion on additional measures. Fifteen years ago, cybersecurity was only a blip on the US government’s radar at $938 million in spending.
The private sector is in the same boat, as 69% of business executives see cyberattacks as a threat to their growth. This is a fair statement since Verizon estimates in its 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report that the average cost of a cyberattack to a business ranges between $475,000 to $9 million depending on the number of records stolen.
Among the companies that are benefiting from the surge in cybersecurity spending include those building firewalls, secure servers, routers, anti-virus software, and malware detection tools. Firms that specialize in consulting and solving related security problems are also getting plenty of interest. Investors can potentially profit from this sector as well by identifying companies and funds that will gain from booming activity and spending in the sector.
Visualizing Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19
As unemployment levels rise, we navigate the fallout of COVID-19 as layoffs ripple across the once-thriving startup ecosystem.
Layoffs at Prominent Startups Triggered by COVID-19
As the pandemic reverberates through almost every industry imaginable, tech startups are also feeling the pain.
Since mid-March, countless startups and unicorns have undergone layoffs.
Today’s infographic pulls data from Layoffs.fyi, and navigates the cascading layoffs across 30 of the most recognizable startups in America. Each of the companies have slashed over 250 employees between March 11 and May 26, 2020—capturing a snapshot of the continuing fallout of COVID-19.
Silicon Valley Takes a Hit
Closing 45 offices, Uber has laid off 6,700 employees since mid-March. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was granted a $45M earnings package in 2018, announced he will also waive his $1M base salary for the remainder of the year.
|Company||# Layoffs||% of Employees||Industry|
*Layoffs reported between March 11-May 26, 2020
Meanwhile, as room bookings dropped by over 40% across several countries, Airbnb laid off a quarter of its workforce. The tech darling is anticipating a $2.4B revenue shortfall in 2020.
Like many other big names—including Lyft, Uber, and WeWork—Airbnb is struggling to achieve profitability. In the first nine months of 2019, it lost $322M at the height of the market cycle.
Until 2021, gig-economy revenues are projected to drop by at least 30%.
International Startups Struggling
Startups in the U.S. aren’t the only ones scrambling to conserve cash and cut costs.
Brazil-based unicorn Stone has let go of 20% of its workforce. The rapidly growing digital payments company includes Warren Buffett as a major stakeholder, holding an 8% share as of March 2020.
At the same time, India-based ride-hailing Ola has witnessed revenue declines of 95% since mid-March. It laid off 1,400 employees as bookings drastically declined.
|Company||# Layoffs||% of Employees||Location|
Similarly, Uber India has rivaled Ola in dominance across India’s $10B ride-hailing market since launching three years after Ola, in 2013. Now, almost 25% of the Uber India workforce have been laid off.
Of course, these reports do not fully take into account the growing impact of COVID-19, but help paint a picture as the cracks emerge.
While the job market remains murky, what startups are looking to hire?
Coursera, an online education startup, listed 60 openings in May. By the end of the year, the company plans to hire 250 additional staff. Within the peak of widespread global lockdowns, the platform attracted 10M new users.
Meanwhile, Canva, an Australia-based graphic design unicorn, is seeking to fill 100 positions worldwide. In partnership with Google for Education, Canva offers project-based learning tools designed for classrooms, in addition to free graphic design resources.
At the same time, tech heavyweights Facebook and Amazon reported openings. Booming startups such as Plaid, Zoom, and Pinterest are also listing new positions as shifting consumer demand continues to shape unpredictable and historic hiring markets.
Mapped: The State of Facial Recognition Around the World
Mass surveillance is becoming the status quo. This map dives into the countries where facial recognition technology is in place, and how it’s used.
Mapping The State of Facial Recognition Around the World
View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.
From public CCTV cameras to biometric identification systems in airports, facial recognition technology is now common in a growing number of places around the world.
In its most benign form, facial recognition technology is a convenient way to unlock your smartphone. At the state level though, facial recognition is a key component of mass surveillance, and it already touches half the global population on a regular basis.
Today’s visualizations from SurfShark classify 194 countries and regions based on the extent of surveillance.
|Facial Recognition Status||Total Countries|
|Approved, but not implemented||12|
|No evidence of use||68|
Click here to explore the full research methodology.
Let’s dive into the ways facial recognition technology is used across every region.
North America, Central America, and Caribbean
In the U.S., a 2016 study showed that already half of American adults were captured in some kind of facial recognition network. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its “Biometric Exit” plan, which aims to use facial recognition technology on nearly all air travel passengers by 2023, to identify compliance with visa status.
Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of Americans are actually in favor of implementing facial recognition technology, considering it acceptable for use in law enforcement according to a Pew Research survey. Yet, some cities such as San Francisco have pushed to ban surveillance, citing a stand against its potential abuse by the government.
Facial recognition technology can potentially come in handy after a natural disaster. After Hurricane Dorian hit in late summer of 2019, the Bahamas launched a blockchain-based missing persons database “FindMeBahamas” to identify thousands of displaced people.
The majority of facial recognition technology in South America is aimed at cracking down on crime. In fact, it worked in Brazil to capture Interpol’s second-most wanted criminal.
Home to over 209 million, Brazil soon plans to create a biometric database of its citizens. However, some are nervous that this could also serve as a means to prevent dissent against the current political order.
Belgium and Luxembourg are two of only three governments in the world to officially oppose the use of facial recognition technology.
Further, 80% of Europeans are not keen on sharing facial data with authorities. Despite such negative sentiment, it’s still in use across 26 European countries to date.
The EU has been a haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance.
—European Digital Rights (EDRi)
In Russia, authorities have relied on facial recognition technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition enabled cameras in operation.
Middle East and Central Asia
Facial recognition technology is widespread in this region, notably for military purposes.
In Turkey, 30 domestically-developed kamikaze drones will use AI and facial recognition for border security. Similarly, Israel has a close eye on Palestinian citizens across 27 West Bank checkpoints.
In other parts of the region, police in the UAE have purchased discreet smart glasses that can be used to scan crowds, where positive matches show up on an embedded lens display. Over in Kazakhstan, facial recognition technology could replace public transportation passes entirely.
East Asia and Oceania
In the COVID-19 battle, contact tracing through biometric identification became a common tool to slow the infection rates in countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. In some instances, this included the use of facial recognition technology to monitor temperatures as well as spot those without a mask.
That said, questions remain about whether the pandemic panopticon will stop there.
China is often cited as a notorious use case of mass surveillance, and the country has the highest ratio of CCTV cameras to citizens in the world—one for every 12 people. By 2023, China will be the single biggest player in the global facial recognition market. And it’s not just implementing the technology at home–it’s exporting too.
While the African continent currently has the lowest concentration of facial recognition technology in use, this deficit may not last for long.
Several African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have received telecommunications and surveillance financing and infrastructure from Chinese companies—Huawei in particular. While the company claims this has enabled regional crime rates to plummet, some activists are wary of the partnership.
Whether you approach facial recognition technology from public and national security lens or from an individual liberty perspective, it’s clear that this kind of surveillance is here to stay.
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