Global cyber-attack could be as costly as Hurricane Sandy

A global cyber-attack could be as expensive as a major natural disaster, a new report has claimed.

Analysis by Lloyd’s of London compared the effects of a hypothetical global cyber-attack to the super storm known as Hurricane Sandy that hit the US coast in 2012, in terms of the financial impact.

A major attack could result in financial losses of up to $53 billion, close to the total cost of the 2012 storm. 

That's according to noted banking group Lloyd’s of London, which teamed up with risk-modelling firm Cyence to look at several potential cyber-attack disaster scenarios. Apparently, insurers are having a hard time estimating their potential exposure to cyber-related losses.

"Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event," Lloyd's of London chief executive Inga Beale told Reuters.

The WannaCry ransomware, which hit in May, ended up costing businesses in more than 100 countries, more than $8 billion. These costs mostly go on business interruptions and computer repairs. 

The Lloyds of London / Cyence hypothetical cyberattack looks like this: hackers inject a piece of malicious code into a cloud provider’s software. The code spreads to its customers all over the world, including financial services companies, hotels, and other businesses. 

A year later, once the code has been thoroughly spread, it activates, crashing millions of computers all over the globe. 

“Average economic losses caused by such a disruption could range from $4.6 billion to $53 billion for large to extreme events. But actual losses could be as high as $121 billion”, the report said.

Image source: Shutterstock/GlebStock