WannaCry attack lifts shares in cybersecurity firm Sophos to record high
UK cybersecurity firm Sophos has been inundated with calls since the biggest ever ransomware attack was unleashed last week on the NHS and businesses around the world, the company has revealed.
Shares hit a fresh record high after Sophos, a cloud network security specialist that counts the NHS among its clients, reported a sharp rise in billings and predicted strong growth over the next few years.
Kris Hagerman, the chief executive, said the cyber-attack was a “wakeup call to the whole world”.
“There are a lot of people calling us. We’re getting a lot of interest from customers,” Hagerman said. “It’s a wakeup call to the whole world that we need to make IT security a top priority and need to redouble our efforts to get the basics right. If you don’t, the bad guys will find a way to get through.”
Shares rose 10% after the FTSE 250 company reported better-than-expected results for the year to the end of March. Billings – which represent the total value of products and services invoiced to clients – grew 18% to $632m (£487m). The company has set a target of $1bn of billings within three years.
Hagerman said there was no plan to sell the business. “We have no intention to sell. We feel very confident in our road ahead and ability to achieve and sail past our $1bn target,” he said.
He added that firms should prioritise spending on IT security, making sure the latest anti-ransom technology is deployed and that systems are regularly updated and backed up, both in the office and at home.
“If businesses don’t get it right, the cost of getting it wrong can be catastrophic,” Hagerman said.
Over the weekend, a claim on the company’s website that “the NHS is totally protected with Sophos” was changed to “Sophos understands the security needs of the NHS”, but analysts believe shares in the company will continue to do well because of the growing need for cyberdefences.
“Sophos has been enjoying a champagne week, with shares up 20% since Monday and 10.3% today,” said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Shareholders are being rewarded with a dramatically increased dividend, and as a provider of an increasingly vital service with a strong recurring revenue base, the future looks bright for the group.”
At its base in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Sophos has a team of people investigating last week’s WannaCry attack, and Hagerman said it was building a picture of what happened.
“We’re right at the centre, chasing down the gory details of what happened. We know a lot more now than we did three days ago and we’ll know a lot more in the next three days,” he said. “Whoever did this is probably hiding under a rock, hoping that it all goes away and that they can resurface again.”