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My Thanksgiving Cyber Attack—and Two Cybersecurity Stocks

I have two cybersecurity stocks to recommend today. Why cybersecurity stocks? Because I was the subject of a cyber attack this Thanksgiving.

I have two cybersecurity stocks to recommend today. Why cybersecurity stocks? Because they’re fresh on my mind after I was the subject of a cyber attack this Thanksgiving. Here’s what happened…

After the market closed on Thanksgiving eve, I was enjoying my first glass of wine with my father-in-law. As he began to talk politics, my wine consumption and cellphone message and email checking accelerated. All of a sudden, my Gmail account said I had a staggering 165 unread emails. I instantly knew something was wrong.

By the time I raced from my kitchen to my office computer, I had 2,800 spam emails! And as I was looking at the screen, those 2,800 spam emails turned into over 4,000! Something very bad was happening.

I quickly checked my Sent Mail folder, and saw that no emails were being sent by me. This was a relief. Regardless, I changed my Gmail password.

But the emails kept coming. 5,000 messages ... 10,000 messages... and they looked like pure spam garbage. These few examples will give you the idea:


I quickly checked all of my bank accounts. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Yet the emails kept coming.

Next I found a Gmail chat community (because you can’t just call Google) and got someone in a chat room to tell me what could be going on. The person said to check my PayPal and Ebay accounts for odd activity. I checked and found nothing wrong.

When I told the stranger in the Gmail chat room that nothing was wrong with those accounts, he said that I should keep checking all my accounts because there was an issue somewhere.

I next logged into my Amazon account and found my credit card AND another random credit card in my profile. I quickly deleted all the cards and changed my password.

But what I found puzzling was that, according to my Amazon account, the person who got into my Amazon account hadn’t ordered anything! And my credit card wasn’t showing a purchase either.

Why would someone hack in, but not buy?

I called Amazon fraud detection and they told me to check another area, and there I found that someone had bought an iPhone—though they used someone else’s card to pay for it.

In the end, I was able to figure out the hacker’s plan. It appears that this was some version of a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. The hacker flooded my email with spam so that normal emails, like the Amazon confirmation of the new phone order, wouldn’t get through to me.


The next morning, as I was cleaning out the over 20,000 emails from overnight, I finally got the confirmation of an iPhone that was ordered and shipped.

My father in law, a former FBI agent, watched with great interest as I scrambled for hours changing passwords and talking in chat rooms. In his FBI days, bank robberies and kidnappings were the way the bad guys stole money. Now the world has clearly changed.

DDoS attacks are a major concern for cybersecurity firms. In fact, in late October, hackers bombarded websites with so much traffic that it overwhelmed connections and dramatically impacted service. The issues spread beyond the U.S. and impacted websites globally. For hours, services such as Twitter, Netflix and others did not work.

So how can you profit from this phenomena—aside from becoming one of the bad guys?

By investing in the companies that are working to defend against these attacks!

Just two weeks ago, Cabot Growth Investor Chief Analyst Mike Cintolo recommended buying a position in one recent earnings cybersecurity stock. The stock is up 40% year-to-date, but Mike thinks that’s just the beginning. To learn which stock Mike recommended, click here.

And Cabot Options Trader and Cabot Options Trader Pro subscribers currently hold a call position in cybersecurity stock Symantec (SMYC). In late August, after several days of extremely unusual call buying activity, I recommended buying SYMC call options. We risked $204 per call purchased, with unlimited upside potential. Just seven days later, we sold half the position for a quick profit of 17.64%. The rest we continue to hold, going for a home run. If you want to know which SYMC calls we own, click here.

I hope my recent run-in with a hacker never happens to you. But if it does, I hope sharing my experience will help you get through what could be a very challenging experience.

Jacob Mintz is a professional options trader and editor of Cabot Options Trader. Using his proprietary options scans, Jacob creates and manages positions in equities based on unusual option activity and risk/reward.