Computerworld

No Security for Net Securities

SAN FRANCISCO (02/10/2000) - "One man's misfortunes can be another man's gain."

Or, in this politically correct period in which we live, change "man" to "person." Or, in the case of stock markets, switch "person" to "business."

That was the case Wednesday in an attack-dominated session that saw losses for a number of companies whose services were disrupted over the past few days by "crackers," or unscrupulous hackers. But with concern over when and where attacks would strike next, companies providing Internet security had their day in the sun.

The Street.com's Internet Sector index ended the day down 14.54, or 1.25 percent, to 1146.83. The Nasdaq dropped 64.26, or 1.45 percent, to 4363.24. The Dow plummeted 258.44, or 2.36 percent, to 10699.16.

First, a list of Wednesday's victims. Online brokers E-Trade, whose site was down for about an hour Wednesday morning, closed down 1.13 at 21.88. Datek, another online brokerage, was also down for a short period of time, though it is not publicly traded and the company said later Wednesday that its problems were internal, not hacker-related. ZDNet, whose tech/media site was down for about 2 1/2 hours, closed up 0.13 at 33.25, though gains were likely in response to the company reporting earnings Tuesday.

At a Washington news conference, Attorney General Janet Reno said the FBI had begun a criminal investigation to find the people - or persons - who were disrupting the sites. "We are committed in every way to tracking down those who are responsible," Reno said.

Other companies whose sites were victimized over the past 48 hours suffered losses, though investors were likely selling on the basis of fear, rather than on whether the suffering sites' problems would impact their companies' bottom lines.

Yahoo finished down 10.81, or 3 percent, at 362.31; eBay slipped 5.75, or 3.4 percent, to 164, while Amazon.com ended down 2.88, or 3.5 percent, at 80.25.

Buy.com, which went public Tuesday, closed up 2.38, or 9.5 percent, at 27.

But while losses in these and other Net stocks were modest, the gains seen among Internet security firms were solid.

Internet Security Systems closed up 7.88, or 11 percent, at 81.75; SonicWall finished up 10.5, or 17 percent, at 72.75; WatchGuard closed up 15.5, or 46 percent, at 49.13; Axent ended up 5, or 21.5 percent, at 28.25; and VeriSign closed up 5.38, or 3 percent, at 194.81; and Check Point Software finished up 7.94, or 6 percent, at 148.

There were a couple of other notable gainers. BroadVision closed up 17.63, or 11.6 percent, at 169.88 after the electronic business software company announced a 3-for-1 stock split. And Aspect Development finished up 22, or 23 percent, at 118.63 after it announced partnerships with i2 Technologies and Commerce One.