The technology sector runs the gamut from artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) to SaaS companies or cybersecurity, and from the biggest household names to the smallest companies being operated out of garages. The rise of AI and traps for the unwary were previously covered here.  Risks of investing in SaaS Solutions can be found here and here.  Technology is everywhere in 2021, even in the smallest brick and mortar shops around.  Technology investing offers lucrative opportunities for investors large and small, but there are many traps for the unwary, such as “zero-day exploits.”

An exploit is a piece of code that capitalizes on vulnerabilities in software.  Typically, hackers use this vulnerability to gain access to systems or solutions and cause harm.  A zero-day exploit is relatively rare; it targets an undiscovered vulnerability.  For over twenty years, hackers have been paid handsomely for finding exploits and handing them over to the company, yielding six or seven figures depending on the target and vulnerability.  These so-called “bug-bounties” could be stockpiled for future use or cashed in to attackers and defenders alike.  Many hackers came from the government where they realized they could make more money by breaking bad than trading the bugs in for a government wage.

Millionaires and billionaires the world over snap up exploits for future use against foes and dissidents.  America, the world’s pre-eminent cyber power, uses such exploits for cyber-offense, as do most other countries.  Believing that others cannot discover such holes, many countries hoard such exploits for longer than is advisable, rather than disclosing them to technology companies.  Countries are wiling to pay top dollar for such exploits, which has created a vast and lucrative market at the expense of technology companies.  There is a flourishing black market business in Europe and Latin America.  China and Russia are big players in this market as well.  As technology has become interwoven, ever more so during the pandemic and essential to the functioning of modern trade, from shipping to utilities, the trade in these digital lock-picks will continue to thrive and create risks for the unsuspecting.