Russia may be making nice for the moment in Ukraine, pulling forces back from cities it has not been able to invade. However, Vladimir Putin’s minions still pose a threat closer to home.
Angered by sanctions, some fear that Putin may retaliate with increased cyber attacks. Among those concerned is President Joe Biden. Recently, he sounded the alarm.
“The more Putin’s back is against the wall, the greater the severity of the tactics he may employ … one of the tools he’s most likely to use in my view, in our view, is cyberattacks,” Biden said.
Threat to Small Business
Many are concerned about attacks on infrastructure. However, cyberattacks are focusing more on smaller targets, according to Department of Homeland Security’s Jen Easterly. She heads the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
🛡As a combat veteran, I’m in total awe of the courage of the 🇺🇦 people. While there are no specific threats to 🇺🇸, we must be prepared for spillover effects of 🇷🇺 cyber ops or an uptick in ransomware. We’re continuing to update https://t.co/noCFT0QNm8 w/info to reduce your risk. pic.twitter.com/rR7wGhbSOL
— Jen Easterly 🛡 Shields Up! (@CISAJen) February 27, 2022
Last year cyberattacks on businesses saw a huge rise, according to Check Point Research.
It Has Already Happened
In 2019 about two dozen Texas communities were virtually shut down by cyberattacks.
“As a matter of fact, small businesses comprise approximately one-half to three-quarters of the victims of ransomware,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in an address to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.
Threat to You
The risk of a cyberattack on home networks has increased with more people working from home. However, the problem was escalating before that. In 2018, a Gallup poll found that about one in four U. S. households had been invaded by a cyberattack.
Most attacks on individuals come in the form of phishing. This tactic uses emails or compelling subject lines that lure victims to compromised websites.
“User-awareness training initiatives that provide employees with information they can see value in for their personal lives still goes a long way here,” says Mike Pedrick, vice president of cybersecurity consulting at Nuspire.
How To Protect Yourself
CISA recommends four ways to protect your cyber security.
- Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts. That makes computer hacks 99 percent less likely, says CISA.
- Update your software. You can easily do that by turning on automatic updates.
- Do not open an email without knowing the sender. In addition, do not click a link unless you know where it is going. More than 90 percent of successful cyberattacks start with a phishing email.
- Use strong passwords, and ideally a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.
Is It Time To Invest in Healthcare?
From caring for an aging population to treating opioid addiction to battling a pandemic, healthcare has been a paramount issue for decades. It has also had a significant financial impact.
The Dow closed at record highs 68 times last year and began this year with two more record closes.
You might expect healthcare investments to be a market leader. However, recently healthcare stocks have been trading near record lows. However, more analysts see an upside to healthcare investments.
Potential High And Rising
Healthcare expenditures make up 19.7 percent of the U. S. Gross National Product (GDP), according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Further, the CMS estimates that healthcare spending will increase 5.4 percent annually through 2028. By that time annual healthcare expenditures will reach $6.2 billion a year.
Areas of Opportunity
One firm that is excited about healthcare investments is Morgan Stanley. The investment bank sees the relatively low valuations of healthcare stocks and sector innovations offering buying opportunities.
“My team and I at Morgan Stanley’s Global Investment Office believe these valuations, together with a slew of game-changing developments, present opportunity for long-term investors,” writes Vijay Chandar, Morgan investment strategist.
Chandler’s team has identified three areas where they feel healthcare investments will pay off.
- Genomics. This is the study of genes. Research in this field was used to develop Covid-19 vaccines. However, it is also part of developing cures for virtually any and every human malady from diabetes to cancer.
- Biotech. Again, this field covers a wide area of medical research and development. Biotech has had a hand in developing a treatment for HIV and COVID. However, Morgan sees limitless potential.
“In coming years,” writes Chandar, “new treatments in cancer, neurology and gene-based therapies—areas of focus prior to the pandemic—may come to market.”
- Diagnostics. Chandar cites advances in early testing for diseases to wireless heart monitors as advances in disease detection.
An aging population and new health risks insure the need for healthcare. In addition, most firms in the sector have strong balance sheets.
However, there are risks. Drugs can have side effects. Those side effects can result in injuries and lawsuits. In addition, there is the possibility of regulatory controls tapping down profits.
Online Shopping To Hit $1 Trillion
Online shopping has been steadily growing for some time now. However, changes in consumer spending prompted by pandemic precautions have accelerated that trend. As a result, online shopping is set to top $1 trillion this year, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.
Adobe’s forecast, if correct, would be a 13 percent increase over 2021 online spending.
National Retail Federation Agrees
The National Retail Federation (NRA) agrees with Adobe. The NRA has been busy making its own projections. It says online sales will increase 11 to 13 percent this year or between $1.17 and $1.19 trillion.
“The pandemic was a consequential moment for e-commerce,” Vivek Pandya, Adobe analyst, told Reuters. “Not only did it accelerate growth by nearly two years, but it also impacted the types of goods consumers are willing to buy online.”
Groceries Spur Online Shopping Growth
“E-commerce is being reshaped by grocery shopping, a category with minimal discounting compared to legacy categories like electronics and apparel,” said Patrick Brown, Adobe’s vice president of growth marketing and insights. “It highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings.”
Online grocery spending now totals $6.7 billion a month, according to Adobe. That is more than double 2019’s $3.1 billion. This year, Adobe says the figure will exceed $85 billion.
Online grocery shopping increased dramatically during the pandemic. As a result, Inside Intelligence wrote in 2021, “US digital grocery buyers have now reached critical mass.”
Online grocery sales are expected to double by 2025, according to Inside Intelligence.
Other Growth Factors
Electronics remain the prime mover in online sales. Americans spend $13.6 billion per month buying electronics online. This year, Adobe expects those sales to exceed $174 billion.
Conversely, apparel did not fare as well as electronics during the pandemic.
With more people staying home, there was less need to update wardrobes. As a result, the category lagged behind electronics in growth. However, online apparel shopping grew by over eight percent each of the last two years.
Adobe sees online apparel sales surpassing $130 billion in 2022.
Inflation also impacts online sales figures. Adobe expects $27 billion of the increase in online sales this year to come from inflation.
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Max K. Erkiletian began writing for newspapers while still in high school. He went on to become an award-winning journalist and co-founder of the print magazine Free Bird. He has written for a wide range of regional and national publications as well as many on-line publications. That has afforded him the opportunity to interview a variety of prominent figures from former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Paul Volker to Blues musicians Muddy Waters and B. B. King. Max lives in Springfield, MO with his wife Karen and their two cats. He spends as much time as possible with his kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.