Companies including utilities, banks and phone carriers would have to spend almost nine times more on cybersecurity to prevent a digital Pearl Harbor from plunging millions into darkness, paralyzing the financial system or cutting communications, a Bloomberg Government study found.
Spies, criminals and hacker-activists are stepping up assaults on U.S. government and corporate systems, spurring efforts by Congress and President Barack Obama to shield infrastructure essential to U.S. national and economic security, such as power grids and water-treatment plants.
In the House, Republicans including Dan Lungren of California are pursuing several narrower bills rather than a single comprehensive measure. They favor incentives to spur companies to share cyber-threat information and better protect their networks.
“We have entered into a new era of combat,” Michael Hayden, former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency director, said in an interview.
Of all the industries surveyed by in the Bloomberg study, financial services would face the steepest increase in spending to reach an ideal state of protection. Financial companies’ annual security costs would jump almost 13-fold on average to $292.4 million per company to fend off 95 percent of attacks, from the current $22.9 million, according to the study.