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17 July 2017, 08:04 | Megan Pierce
Under one-fifth of companies insured against cyber attacks
The report forecasts that losses could range from $4.6bn (£3.5bn) for a large event to $53.1bn (£40.6bn) for an extreme event if a cloud service was disrupted through hacking.
According to the report, average economic losses due to such a disruption could cost as much as $53 billion while the actual losses could be as high as $121 billion, because of the uncertainty around calculating cyber losses.
The insurance market has formed a partnership with Cyence, a firm specialising in analysing the economic impact of cyber risks, to urge companies and its own underwriting members to focus more on their potential losses. Analysis in the report shows that for this scenario the protection gap could be as high as $45 billion, meaning that roughly $20.6 billion, or less than 17% of the economic loss would be covered by re/insurance protection.
Published two months after a ransomware cyberattack that hobbled National Health Service hospitals and hit almost 100 countries, a 56-page report from the world's oldest insurance market says the threat posed by such global attacks has spiraled and poses a huge risk to business and governments over the next decade.
If a single cyberattack were to reach Lloyds' extreme scenario of $121.4 billion, that would not only surpass the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina, but it would also exceed the cost of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico of $61.6 billion, according to BP's 2016 estimates. What makes it even more challenging is a lack of historical data on which insurers can base their assumptions. These costs mostly go on business interruptions and computer repairs.
The report's hypothetical cloud service provider attack involves hackers injecting malicious code created to trigger system crashes among victim systems a year later.
"Just as some of the worst natural disasters, incidents of cyber are likely to have serious impacts on businesses and economies", alarm Inga Beale, boss of Lloyd's of london, quoted in the press release. The malware would take a year to spread among systems of the provider's customers, including financial services companies and hotels, causing them to lose a massive amount of money.
Lloyds, the world's oldest insurance market, said its projections, issued on Monday, indicate the growing risk posed by the economic system's dependence on Internet-connected computer systems.
Lloyds has about one-quarter of the emerging area of cyber insurance and says risks are more hard to model than natural disasters due to the human element, which means underlying assumptions can change quickly.
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