If you think you can’t get hacked, just remember the tale of Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and richest guy in the world.

Phishing With Princes

“This is soooo funny! Like and share to see what happens!”

Few things in the English language get my blood boiling more than phrases like these. They come in emails, on Facebook posts, in direct messages and through texts. What’s even more infuriating is that people I know send this stuff to me — even though they know better!

No, Uncle Jerry, the Nigerian prince isn’t going to send you any money. And neither is Bill Gates. Stop sharing this crap!

If you want to know the dangers of sharing these emails/texts/messages, just ask Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.

Back in 2018, Bezos’ iPhone was hacked after he viewed a video sent to him via WhatsApp. The sender wasn’t a Nigerian prince … but someone connected to the Saudi prince. The hackers lifted personal images that complicated Bezos’ divorce that year. They also reportedly skimmed gigabytes of data in the process, but exactly what they got hasn’t been revealed.

The situation has since escalated well beyond a romantic spat, however. The United Nations (U.N.) is now involved. That’s serious.

“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia,” U.N. representatives said in a statement this morning. The U.N. is calling for an immediate investigation. (FYI, Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

The Saudis have rejected the claims as “absurd.”

Still, FTI Consulting, the business advisory firm that carried out the hacking investigation, says it has “medium to high confidence” that Bezos’ phone was hacked by malware from an account used by the Saudi crown prince.

The Takeaway:

There are two takeaways here:

  1. Don’t open any message, attachment or link you don’t recognize!
  2. Don’t open any message, attachment or link you don’t recognize!

Yes, No. 1 and No. 2 are the same. Yes, it’s that important. It doesn’t matter whom the message, attachment or link comes from. This includes relatives and friends … especially relatives and friends!

No one will send you money, no matter how many forwards or “likes” you get. No amount of laughter is worth opening that “funny” image/video — it isn’t that funny anyway.

And if you think: “It won’t happen to me! I’ve got great security on my devices!” — just remember Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the richest guy in the world.

His security was far beyond anything that you or I could afford. What’s more, he was using arguably two of the more secure platforms on mobile: an iPhone and WhatsApp — both so encrypted that even the U.S. government can’t crack them.

So, no, Uncle Jerry, that copy of Norton/McAfee won’t keep you safe. Once you open a message, click an attachment or visit a link, you’ve given your permission to whatever is on the other side. Not even the best cybersecurity in the world can help you at that point.

In these situations, just remember Great Stuff’s words to live by: When in doubt, delete it out — at least until the world runs completely on blockchain.

Blockchain? What’s that?

Right, blockchain! You know, the ultra secure digital ledger that records transactions like no one’s business? This tech is perfect for our less-than-secure world … especially for when your “long-lost cousin” is “totally stranded” in an “Indonesian airport.”

Blockchain tech could disrupt everything about how we use money, from banking to retail to real estate.

But Mr. Great Stuff, can you tell me more about what blockchain is? I bet there’s a way to invest in it, too…

I could tell you more, but it’s best that you hear it from famed tech expert Paul . Thousands of Great Stuff readers love Paul ’s insights into the latest tech trends … and blockchain is no different.

Click here to hear why blockchain is so disruptive — and the gigantic profit potential it’s unleashing.


Great Stuff Good Better Best

Good: Earnings Don’t Mean Squat

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) earnings mean nothing as subscriber growth fears pummel shares.

I tried to warn you on Friday when Great Stuff previewed earnings for Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). Did you listen? I hope so.

By all conceivable measures, Netflix’s quarterly report was out of this world. Earnings skyrocketed 333% to $1.30 per share from $0.30 a year ago. Revenue soared to $5.5 billion. Wall Street expected earnings of $0.50 per share and revenue of $5.4 billion. Heck, even the Whisper Number projected a mere $0.58 per share in earnings.

And what did NFLX get for its troubles? A loss of more than 2% on the day.

But why? Netflix said it now has more than 60 million subscribers worldwide. It reported 8.3 million new international subscribers, beating expectations.

The reason for the 2% drop? Domestic growth concerns. Netflix only added 420,000 subscribers domestically, versus expectations for 618,000 adds. What’s more, 2020 guidance only called for 7 million new subscribers, compared to 9.2 million new subs in 2019.

Subscriber growth is slowing, and investors fear that Netflix has hit peak saturation. With the company spending billions on content this year, that could mean lower returns and higher negative cash flow.

That said, Netflix proved that it could execute even amid a fresh assault from The Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE: DIS) Disney+. Furthermore, I think both investors and analysts are discounting international subscribers way too much. It is a global market after all, and Netflix is quickly doing to the rest of the world what it did stateside last decade.

In short, keep your eyes on Netflix, as this dip might be a buying opportunity.

Better: Old Dog, New Tricks

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is relevant again after Redhat fuels earnings beat.

Surprise! International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is relevant again.

Big Blue is among the last of the old-school tech giants to move to the cloud, and it’s paying off big. The company reported earnings of $4.71 per share, $0.02 better than the consensus.

Revenue was also ahead of expectations at $21.78 billion.

The kicker for IBM? A 21.8% jump in cloud revenue to $6.8 billion. It’s amazing what charging to support a free operating system can do for your bottom line — thanks Red Hat Linux!

Things are going so well, IBM also boosted its 2020 outlook above analyst expectations.

This is the most excitement IBM investors have seen in years. Seriously. The stock has basically gone nowhere in the past five years.

As boring as it sounds, maybe paying $34 billion to buy out software company Red Hat really was the best thing to happen to IBM. I’m still having trouble getting excited about this dinosaur, though … if you couldn’t tell.

Best: Look out Below!

Red-hot Nio Inc. (NIO) falls to profit taking after record run.

So, when I started out writing on Nio Inc. (NYSE: NIO) this morning, the shares were up about 5%. I was impressed … truly. Nio was on its way to an unprecedented 10-day rally, gaining more than 60% in the process.

But, in true Nio fashion, those gains were not to last. The stock rolled over sharply this afternoon, as investors decided that $5 per share was too much to pay for the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker.

The $5 area could be quite the hurdle for Nio. The company is riding high off December’s stellar earnings call, reports of a $1 billion cash infusion from GAC Group and Tesla Inc.’s (Nasdaq: TSLA) EV success in China.

In fact, NIO shares have more than tripled in the past three months. With that level of speculation, however, comes an equal level of volatility. There’s no bad news making the rounds on Nio today, so this sudden midday drop is likely due to profit-taking.

I mean, if you banked a 200%-plus gain on a speculative Chinese EV stock, wouldn’t you take profits?

The company has investment potential (if you have the risk tolerance). But, if you’re looking to jump in, you should probably wait until the stock comes back to earth a bit more.

Great Stuff's Comic Corner

1. Don’t open any message, attachment or link you don’t recognize!

Let’s revisit our two rules, shall we?

  1. Don’t open any message, attachment or link you don’t recognize!
  2. Don’t open any message, attachment or link you don’t recognize!

Thank you.

Great Stuff: Feed the Beast

Great Stuff Feed Me

You better believe it’s that time again.

You have less than 12 hours to drop me a line at GreatStuffToday@banyanhill.com to make this week’s edition of Reader Feedback.

We take all kinds here: comments, questions, witty remarks and secret recipes. As always, no cursing, please. We can’t publish that s#&%.

I’ll get the festivities started for you:

  • Have you kept up with the Senate impeachment trials?
  • Would you spot a cyber hack or phishing scam — before it’s too late?
  • Have you ever made ridiculous profits off speculative Chinese stocks?
  • Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions? (And is your local gym back to being empty?)

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out Great Stuff on social media. If you can’t get enough meme-y goodness, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Until next time, good trading!


Joseph Hargett

Great Stuff Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing