Cyber attacks “erode world economic growth”, says former White House official

Cyber attacks are damaging the world economy, a former White House official has warned, and leading economies need to put aside political differences to deal with the threat.

“We have made cybersecurity one topic when it is many. Countries can’t see eye-to-eye on what is most important and what needs to be done first,” said Melissa Hathaway. Hathaway was Director of the Joint Interagency Cyber Task Force under George W Bush, and also worked for the Barack Obama administration.

“We need to start to talk about this as gross domestic product loss, and the instability of the financial institutions we are all dependent on as a global economy,” Hathaway said in an interview in Tel Aviv, reported by Bloomberg.

Hathaway urged the G20 group of finance ministers and central bank governors to focus on the damage done.

““If you couch the conversation on the economy and not in espionage and warfare, we can all agree. The economy is common and safe ground. Until this is on the agenda of the G20, we aren’t going to make progress,” said Hathaway. “It is the most effective in talking about economic stability and overall growth, health and wellbeing of the world.”

Hathaway estimated in a report that governments and consumers lose $125 billion to cyber attacks annually. Hathaway pointed to research showing that countries such as the UK lose $42.4 billion a year to cybercrime, with officials admitting that 3% of GDP was lost due to security issues.

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