What would be the economic impact of a terrorist attack on critical infrastructure? A good measure to use is the 2003 northeastern blackout. Anderson consulting ("Northeast Blackout to reduce US earning $6.4 billion") did a relatively thorough study of the impact. Here are the highlights:
- Lost income to workers and profit reductions of companies: $3.12 to $5.2 billion.
- Spoilage (food, etc.): $380 to $940 million.
- Additional police and emergency services: $15 to $100 million.
- Higher utility rates (for repairs and overtime): $1 to $2 billion.
The total economic impact estimated by Anderson ranges between $4.51 and $8.24 billion.
Other economic impacts (to put this blackout in perspective):
- The 2002 Port shutdown: $1.67 billion
- The 1998 GM strike: $2.7 billion
One interesting factoid: The blackout occured on a Thursday afternoon. If it had occured on a Monday or a Tuesday, lost production would have been double.
This estimate provides a good starting point for further analysis. Specifically, areas I have focused on (in my upcoming book) are:
- The impact of cascading failures across multiple infrastructures.
- The impact of mulitiple attacks across different infrastructures.
- Sustained attacks over an extended time period.