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Cybersecurity stocks are a bright spot as Russia-Ukraine conflict prompts cyberattack fears

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Cybersecurity stocks were a rare bright spot Thursday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent major indexes down.

The conflict has prompted concerns of cyberattacks, especially against critical infrastructure companies. Since last week, Ukraine has already experienced two such attacks that affected government websites. The U.S. attributed the first attack to Russia, which the country denied, and said the second one was consistent with what it would expect from Russia.

Signage outside Palo Alto Networks headquarters in Santa Clara, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amid the rising anxiety of an escalation in the conflict, shares of the following cybersecurity companies jumped: Telos, up more than 14%; Palo Alto Networks, up more than 10%; CrowdStrike, up more than 8%; and Mandiant up more than 6%. Palo Alto Networks had also just reported earnings on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 was down about 0.8% on Thursday. The Nasdaq Composite Index was slightly positive.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note on Tuesday that concerns of cyberattacks could add 200 to 300 basis points of growth to the sector, which he said was already poised to increase 20% year-over-year in 2022. A basis point is equal to 0.01%.

“With a significantly elevated level of cyberattacks now appearing on the horizon, we believe added growth tail winds for the cybersecurity sector and well-positioned vendors should be a focus sector for tech investors during this market turmoil,” he wrote.

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