The cost of an extreme cyber attack could end up being as much as a major natural disaster, according to Lloyd’s of London.
Research from the world's specialist insurance and reinsurance market predicts that a hugely devastating cyber attack could cost the global economy £40.6 billion.
That is about the same as the bill to correct damage caused by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy (£38-54 billion).
The cost of a cyber attack on such a scale is tough to guess accurately, due to their variable complexity and the lack of historical data available.
However, a worst case scenario could see the figure reach up to £93 billion, or at best £11.5 billion.
The recent WannaCry attack, which crippled organisations worldwide, cost an estimated £6.1 billion.
Lloyd’s of London’s report focused on the potential damage that could be triggered by an attack on a cloud service provider, often considered to be the most likely target for an attack, followed by a threat to worldwide computer operating systems.
Launching the report, Lloyd’s chief executive Inga Beale said: “Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event.
“Cyber events can cause a severe impact on businesses and economies, trigger multiple claims and dramatically increase insurers’ claims costs.”