While the simultaneous technical breakdowns of the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and Wall Street Journal weren’t connected, it sparked concerns of the damage an all-out cybercrime blackout could cause if such a glitch reached our power systems.
The extent of the economic damage can be estimated in one massive sum: $1 trillion. That’s according to a recent study by specialist insurance company Lloyd’s and University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies.
The report looked at two scenarios. One where a group of terrorists or “disgruntled insider” hackers break into the power system and bring 50 of the almost 700 generators in the northeastern U.S. offline, resulting in a blackout that lasts about 4 days. The damage: $243 billion in immediate and tangential economic loss.
The second scenario is where things get even worse. A group of hackers target the U.S. power grid and take out twice as many generators for the same amount of time. The economic damage more than quadruples to $1 trillion, or about 6% of U.S. GDP.