Like much of the rest of the world, national security efforts in the U.S. have increasingly been shifting online. The next generation of threats to U.S. security could come from cyberattacks, and a potential worst-case scenario is an attack that completely shut down U.S. internet access nationwide.
It may seem like a far-fetched idea that the entire nation could lose internet access for 24 hours or longer, but Russia is preparing for just that scenario. Back in May, Russia passed a law to create an internal parallel mirror of the internet that could be used to keep the country’s internet access up and running in the event of a cyberattack.
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In fact, there were 196 large-scale internet shutdowns impacting 25 different countries last year alone, according to Access Now.
Americans living on the East Coast may remember the morning of Oct. 21, 2016, when a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack took down the internet for a large portion of the eastern U.S. for hours. The code used in the attack was created by just three individuals, and the attack was a wake-up call for just how vulnerable the U.S. internet could be.
The internet has become the lifeblood for Wall Street and the U.S. economy, and every second the U.S. if off the grid costs companies and investors big bucks. In fact, just a 24-hour nationwide U.S. internet outage would cost the economy $7.29 billion, according to Statista. A similar 24-hour outage would cost China $5.88 billion, the UK $2.26 billion and Russia just $310 million.
The risk-reward of cyberattacks versus traditional military attacks is simply too attractive for those looking to harm the U.S. If a cyberattacker is ever successful in taking down the entire U.S. internet for an extended period of time, investors should expect extreme volatility in financial markets.
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