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3 US sectors most critical to national security at elevated risk from Russian cyber attacks, analysts

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  • US cybersecurity officials have designated 16 business sectors as vital to national security.
  • Of those, analysts say three could cause extreme economic damage if successfully attacked.
  • Attacks on energy, financial services, or transportation sectors could wipe out up to $1 trillion.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The escalating conflict over Russia's invasion into Ukraine has financial analysts on high-alert over the cybersecurity risk that the situation presents.

A majority of nefarious all cyber activity originates in Russia, including nearly 60% of all state-sponsored attacks, according to research from Microsoft.

While state-sponsored cyberattacks represent less than 15% of the overall total, the economic impact from a targeted assault could have major ramifications for US national security, analysts from Goldman Sachs wrote in a memo.

Of the 16 business sectors that the US has designated as being critical to security and public health, three are at elevated risk of causing significant economic damage in the event of a successful attack: energy, financial services, and transportation.

The memo cites one study from the New York Federal Reserve, which estimates that up to a third of daily payments could be interrupted as a result of a successful attack on one of the largest US banks.

In addition, Lloyds insurance calculated that an extreme attack on the power grid of the northeastern US could cause economic damages as high as $1 trillion.

The largest attack in history was directed against Ukraine in 2017, in which more than $10 billion in damage was inflicted — about 10% of the Ukrainian economy at the time.

Experts consider the US to be generally less vulnerable than other nations due to stronger regulations and higher investment in cybersecurity, but no entity is able to achieve a perfectly flawless defense, especially in the face of an increasingly concentrated assault.

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