‘cyber sub-prime’ – Looking at the Internet as if it were the Financial system

The Beyond data breaches: global interconnections of cyber risk report, argues that the global aggregations of cyber risk is analogous to those risks that were overlooked in the U.S. sub-prime mortgage market. Problems in that segment spread far beyond the institutions that took the original risks, and proved severe enough to administer a shock that almost blew up the entire global economy.

It is the result of a year-long effort between Zurich Insurance Company Ltd and the Atlantic Council, a project which encompassed meetings on four continents and consultations with cyber experts and risk professionals across different industries.

Just imagine if a major cloud service provider had a ‘Lehman moment,’ with everyone’s data there on Friday, and gone on Monday. If that failure cascaded to a major logistics provider or company running critical infrastructure, it could magnify a catastrophic ripple running throughout the real economy in ways difficult to understand, model or predict beforehand. Especially if this incident coincided with another, the interaction could cause a crash or collapse of much larger scope, duration and intensity than would seem possible – similar to the series of events that struck the financial system in 2008.