British researchers have claimed that a large-scale cyber attack on the US power grid could cost the country’s economy as much as $1 trillion (£640 billion).
The figure appears in a report entitled Business Blackout, jointly published by insurance market Lloyd’s of London and the Cambridge University Centre for Risk Studies on July 8th.
It describes a scenario in which hackers shut down enough parts of the grid to plunge 15 states, as well as capital Washington DC, into darkness. In addition to the $1 trillion economic cost, the report predicts insurance industry payouts of as much as $71.1 billion.
“This scenario shows the huge impact and havoc that could result from a major cyber attack on the US,” commented Tom Bolt, director of performance management at Lloyd’s.
“The reality is that the modern, digital, and interconnected world creates the conditions for significant damage, and we know there are hostile actors with the skills and desire to cause harm.”
Back in April, a report from Trend Micro and the Organization of American States revealed that almost half (44 per cent) of critical infrastructure suppliers in North and South America – including energy companies, telecoms firms and government agencies – have been the targets of cyber attacks in which hackers attempt to disrupt their operations via data destruction.
A further 40 per cent have had malicious actors seek to shut down their systems, again in a bid to cause chaos and business disruption rather than to profit off stolen data.
On that occasion, Trend Micro’s chief security officer Tom Kellerman warned that critical infrastructure has become “a prime target for cybercriminals”.
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