A White House report has warned that cyberattacks are costing the US billions and billions of dollars, with the issue threatening to hurt the entire economy if left unchecked.
The report, authored by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, noted that, in 2016, cyberattacks cost the country between $57 billion and $109 billion. The council considered many forms of cyberattack for its report, including denial of service attacks, data breaches and theft of intellectual property, sensitive financial and strategic information.
The Associated Press noted that the report was issued a day after US official pinned the “NotPetya” ransomware attack on Russia.
The council also warned of malicious cyber activity by nation-states, citing Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea as examples.
Of note, the report brought particular attention to attacks on critical infrastructure such as highways, power grids, communications systems, dams, and food production. Crippling these entities could lead to what the report’s authors called a “spillover” effect, affecting other industries and potentially disrupting the economy at large.
“If a firm owns a critical infrastructure asset, an attack against this firm could cause major disruption throughout the economy,” the report remarked.
Cyberattacks against energy and financial companies will be particularly debilitating, the report suggested.
“These sectors are internally interconnected and interdependent with other sectors as well as robustly connected to the internet, and are thus at a high risk for a devastating cyberattack that would ripple through the entire economy,” it explained.