​Cyber attacks are costly, and things could get worse

Cyber attacks cost the United States between $ 57 billion and $ 109 billion in 2016 , a White House report said Friday , warning of a “ spillover” effect for the broader economy if the situation worsens.

​Cyber attacks are costly, and things could get worse

A report published on The Guardian from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, sought to quantify what it called “malicious cyber activity directed at private and public entities ” including denial of service attacks, data breaches and theft of intellectual property, and sensitive financial and strategic information .

It warned of malicious activity by “ nation – states ” and specifically cited Russia , China, Iran, and North Korea .

The report noted particular concern over attacks on so -called critical infrastructure , such as highways, power grids , communications systems , dams , and food production facilities which could lead to important spillover impacts beyond the target victims .

“If a firm owns a critical infrastructure asset , an attack against this firm could cause major disruption throughout the economy , ” the report said .

It added that concerns were high around cyberattacks against the financial and energy sectors .

“These sectors are internally interconnected and interdependent with other sectors as well as robustly connected to the internet , and are thus at a highest risk for a devastating cyberattack that would ripple through the entire economy , ” it said .

The report offered little in the way of new recommendations on improving cybersecurity , but noted that the situation is hurt by “ insufficient data ” as well as “underinvestment” in defensive systems by the private sector.

The document was issued a day after US officials blamed Russia for last year ’ s devastating “NotPetya ” ransomware attack , calling it a Kremlin effort to destabilize Ukraine which then spun out of control , hitting companies in the US , Europe and elsewhere .

It said Russia , China , North Korea and other nation – states “often engage in sophisticated , targeted attacks, ” with a specific emphasis on industrial espionage.

“If they have funding needs, they may conduct ransom attacks and electronic thefts of funds, ” the report said .

But threats were also seen from “hacktivists , ” or politically motivated groups , as well as criminal organizations, corporate competitors , company insiders and “opportunists. ”

In an oft – repeated recommendation, the White House report said more data sharing could help thwart some attacks.

“The field of cybersecurity is plagued by insufficient data , largely because firms face a strong disincentive to report negative news , ” the report said . ” Cyber protection could be greatly improved if data on past data breaches and cyberattacks were more readily shared across firms. ”

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