La Financiere de L’Echiquier

The other virus

On the afternoon of 27 June 2017, we learned that a whole host of websites and IT systems in Europe and beyond were under attack from a virus. While it is always hard to put an exact price tag on such incidents, various estimates suggest that the NotPetya ransomware[1] attack ultimately cost almost USD 10 billion. At least 2,000 companies were targeted, including SNCF, WPP and the pharmaceutical laboratory MERCK. SAINT-GOBAIN went on to report losses of nearly EUR 250 million in turnover and EUR 80 million in operating income.

More recently, entities as diverse as the Norwegian Parliament, the Tesla factory in Nevada and the Italian social security system have all fallen prey to sophisticated cyberattacks. The worldwide battle for control of data – the oil of the digital economy – is now in full swing in cyberspace, with offensives ranging from phishing to ransomware. Such attacks have intensified this year and data from Moody’s suggests that those on banks have tripled since the start of lockdown. Even the healthcare sector has not escaped unscathed. In fact, the Red Cross experienced one of the most pernicious attacks in its history in March.
A booming market
With the digital transition picking up speed and added impetus for remote working due to the coronavirus crisis, digital security has now become a key strategic issue for companies. It is a booming market worth USD 43 quintillion[2]. In late April, MICROSOFT CEO Satya Nadella said that he thought we had seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. This unprecedented leap naturally led to a sharp rise in demand for security solutions.
Many companies around the world have already decided to invest more to improve their cyber hygiene, prevention capabilities, and detection and reaction protocols. Worldwide spending on digital security software and services is expected to reach USD 125 billion in 2020 and then rise by over 8% per year on average to reach in excess of USD 170 billion in 2024[3]. Our management team identified this strong structural trend some time ago; this prompted us to invest in companies such as Zscaler, which is a leading light in cloud-based cybersecurity, and Okta, a company pioneering the new “Zero Trust” security architecture.
Alongside climate change, cyber risk is one of the major risks identified by the World Economic Forum in Davos. Many companies need to vaccinate themselves and organise their defences against this risk. And, as always, new risks mean new opportunities. Welcome to the age of cyber resilience!

[1] Malware that takes data hostage
[2] Canalys market analysis consultancy
[3] IDC consultancy