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Previous Close10.58
Bid10.48 x 800
Ask10.50 x 1000
Day's Range10.45 - 10.68
52 Week Range9.70 - 15.10
Avg. Volume927,140
Market Cap281.65M
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  • Biden Rushes to Protect the Power Grid as Hacking Threats Grow

    Biden Rushes to Protect the Power Grid as Hacking Threats Grow

    (Bloomberg) -- A White House plan to rapidly shore up the security of the U.S. power grid will begin with a 100-day sprint, but take years more to transform utilities’ ability to fight off hackers, according to details of a draft version of the plan confirmed by two people.The plan is the policy equivalent of a high-wire act: it provides incentives for electric companies to dramatically change the way they protect themselves against cyber-attacks while trying to avoid political tripwires that have stalled previous efforts, the details suggest.Among its core tenets, the Biden administration’s so-called “action plan” will incentivize power utilities to install sophisticated new monitoring equipment to more quickly detect hackers, and to share that information widely with the U.S. government.It will ask utilities to identify critical sites which, if attacked, could have an outsized impact across the grid, according to a six-page draft of the plan, which was drawn up by the National Security Council and described in detail to Bloomberg News.And it will expand a partially classified Energy Department program to identify flaws in grid components that could be exploited by the country’s cyber-adversaries, including Russia, Iran and China.The plan marks the first step in a broad push to protect utilities from cyber-attacks that could leave millions without power, water or gas. A final version of the plan could be released as soon as this week, according to a person familiar with the timing.“It makes sense in a plan like this to start with grid operations,” said Christopher Painter, who was the highest ranking cyber official in the State Department during the Obama administration.“Everything goes down if you don’t have power: the financial sector, refineries, water. The grid underlies the rest of the country’s critical infrastructure,” Painter, now with the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, added.Earlier: Biden Team Boosts Effort to Shield Power Grid From HackersExperts say initiatives to enhance the security of the U.S. electrical grid are years behind better-known efforts to improve the security of data centers and corporate computer systems. At the same time, hackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are launching increasingly aggressive attacks on U.S. power companies, hoping to pre-position malware that could leave U.S. cities and towns in the dark.The recent weather-related outages in Texas, while not the result of a cyber-attack, were a stark demonstration of the potential for devastation. People froze in their homes, struggled to access drinkable water and lost communications because their mobile phones couldn’t charge as grid operators struggled for days to restore power.Read more: Biden to Tap Former NSA Officials to Top Cybersecurity RolesThe White House plan lays out the need for a broad effort to secure the highly specialized computers used not just by electric companies, but also municipal water utilities, gas pipeline operators and others.Two people familiar with the administration’s thinking said power companies were chosen to begin with because they already have a strong record of working with the U.S. government on security threats. While private companies are usually loath to share computer network data widely with the government, some power companies already do so as part of existing pilot programs, one of the people said.Participation IncentivesThe White House plan, which is voluntary, lays out a series of possible incentives to get power companies to sign on, a less politically precarious route than mandating their participation through regulation.Smaller utilities such as rural co-ops may get government funding to cover the cost of new security equipment and software, for example. The government will explore whether participation could be covered under the Safety Act, which provides liability protection for anti-terrorism products and services, according to the plan -- although it’s far from clear that services provided by an electric utility would qualify.Read more: Russia Is Said to Be Suspect in Hacks of U.S. Power PlantsMany of the details around budgets and incentives will be worked out later, through a process coordinated by the National Security Council and others, according to the draft.Utilities’ decisions to participate will hinge on how those details eventually get resolved, cybersecurity experts said. For example, the plan addresses long-standing concerns over sharing details about cyber-attacks automatically with the government by prohibiting “sensitive data” from being collected or stored outside the utilities.But the plan doesn’t yet define what counts as sensitive data, and it makes clear that any data collected must be widely sharable across the federal government.The plan will also expand the role of an Energy Department program that scans grid equipment for flaws or hidden components that hackers could use to attack utilities. Aspects of that program, known as CyTRICS, are classified because they involve efforts by foreign intelligence agencies to intentionally weaken grid technology, according to a person familiar with it. (CyTRICS stands for Cyber Testing for Resilient Industrial Control Systems.)While utilities have supported similar efforts in the past, the creation of an approved vendor list could increase costs for equipment manufacturers that would be required to make their products more secure -- a proposal likley to draw resistence from U.S. and foreign manufacturers, one person familiar with the industry said.Read more: Trust No One Becomes Mantra After Massive Cyber-AttacksTurf WarsIn order to succeed, the plan will have to overcome challenges that have derailed earlier efforts, including interagency turf wars and questions over how much of a role U.S. intelligence agencies should have in protecting the country’s critical infrastructure.The power sector effort will be led by the Energy Department rather than the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, according to the summary.That could raise concerns about CISA losing its existing authorities and possibly ceding the program entirely to the Energy Department, according to current and former DHS officials, as well as an aide on the House Homeland Security Committee. That panel approved a bipartisan bill in March to solidify CISA’s lead role in protecting the country’s industrial control systems (H.R. 1833).“The risk you take in not having CISA do everything is that information doesn’t get where it needs to be,” according to Suzanne Spaulding, who led CISA’s predecessor, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, under the Obama administration and now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.As the White House plan was quietly circulated to officials recently, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated what he believed was CISA’s primary role in a policy speech in late March.After lauding the administration’s cybersecurity plans, he added, “As some have said, the government needs a quarterback on its cybersecurity team. CISA is that quarterback.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Power Scare Shows Texas Grid Still at Risk After Blackouts

    Power Scare Shows Texas Grid Still at Risk After Blackouts

    (Bloomberg) -- Texas faced a brief power-grid scare Tuesday night, less than 60 days after widespread blackouts left millions without light and heat for days during a deep winter freeze.The grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, asked for conservation for nearly four hours with a quarter of generators down for repairs and a mild cold front failing to reduce electricity demand as much as had been anticipated, leaving supply tight. Wholesale electricity prices jumped as high as 10,000% in some parts of the state.Ercot ended the conservation appeal shortly after 8:30 p.m. Houston time without needing to call for any emergency measures.The close call came after the February crisis when Texas suffered from catastrophic blackouts during a winter storm that knocked out nearly half of the state’s generation capacity. State lawmakers are now seeking to put in place a series of market reforms designed to avoid a repeat of the calamity that left more than 100 people dead.Part of the problem on Tuesday was that Ercot failed to correctly forecast solar and wind production and had expected milder weather to reduce demand across Texas. But the cooler air stalled in one part of the state, leaving temperatures -- and demand for power -- higher than anticipated in large cities including San Antonio and Houston.Many power plants schedule annual maintenance for this time of year, when demand is expected to be reduced due to lower temperatures. A few plants were also offline to make repairs related to the February storm, Ercot’s Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson told reporters at an earlier briefing.The average spot on-peak electricity at Ercot’s North Hub jumped more than 10,000% to $2,012 a megawatt-hour as of 5:30 p.m, according to grid data compiled by Genscape. They had fallen back to $222 by 8:30 p.m. Prices are capped at $2,000 a megawatt hour, after regulators suspended the previous $9,000 cap following the energy crisis.(Updates with new details throughout)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Facebook Oversight Board Expands List of Possible Cases

    Facebook Oversight Board Expands List of Possible Cases

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc.’s content Oversight Board, an independent group created to review some of the company’s controversial content decisions, is expanding its mandate to allow users to appeal posts that the company allows to remain on the social network, not just those that were removed.The board, which was announced in 2018 and started operating late last year, is meant to provide a check on Facebook’s power by reviewing the company’s content decisions against its policies. So far, the board has reviewed only six cases, all instances in which Facebook removed content from its service.Now the board, which includes academics, lawyers and journalists, will also review cases brought by users where Facebook’s content moderators have decided to leave posts up. The change will greatly expand the number of posts the board can assess. Facebook has promised to honor the board’s recommendations about whether to remove or restore posts.Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in a blog post that the company was “glad the Oversight Board is expanding their scope and impact, and look forward to their future decisions and recommendations.”To compensate for the increased workload, the board will grow from roughly 20 members to about 40 members in the coming months, according to board member Alan Rusbridger. “It will just enable our work to be more rounded so people can appeal to us both ways,” Rusbridger said in an interview.At the same time the board will only be able to handle a fraction of the cases. “A lot of how well it works depends on whether we are picking the right cases,” he said. One of the cases that the Oversight Board is currently reviewing is whether Facebook overstepped its decision to ban then-President Donald Trump from the service in January. Trump was blocked on Jan. 6 after sharing posts that encouraged his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol to protest the election results, which led to a riot. Facebook deemed that Trump was inciting violence and has suspended him indefinitely until the Board concludes its assessment.(updates with Facebook statement starting in fourth graph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.