By  on March 8, 2013

GENEVA — U.S. companies are increasingly vulnerable to hacking and other cyber attacks, a senior U.S. official said Thursday and warned a system-wide attack could cause global markets to plunge and trigger widespread chaos.

“It’s one of the biggest headaches for executives, and it’s only going to grow. One of our declassified intelligence estimates put the price tag at the loss to American businesses alone last year at $115 billion,” said Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation to the U.S. Secretary of State. “This does not even count the forward investments they need to make to harden their IT infrastructure.” This is one of the “new cost centers for business,” Ross said and added, “and what’s worse, if you are a chief executive, one of the problems is you are investing, and you are often doing so with no guarantees.”

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