ITRC researchers conducted a network analysis of cascading failure risk in the electricity distribution system. This was a contribution to a report investigating the implications of an imagined cyberattack on one of the UK’s regional electricity distribution systems. Specifically, ITRC’s work considered how the failure of electricity sub-stations would affect other critical national infrastructure, such as water supply, telecommunications and transport systems.
The report – ‘Integrated infrastructure: cyber resiliency in society – mapping the consequences of an interconnected digital economy’- proposes that as well as the power distribution sector, several other sectors would be affected, including transport, financial/professional services, education, health and construction. Using a conservative version of the scenario, the study suggests that the impact of such an attack could cost the economy of £49 billion over five years, rising to £442 billion for a more extreme version of the scenario.
The study was developed by Lockheed Martin UK and the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, to identify the economic and social impacts of a hypothetical cyberattack on the UK. The ITRC infrastructure vulnerability assessment model was used to analyse the disruptive consequences such an attack on electricity sub-stations.
The report does not predict an attack, nor imply weaknesses within the UK’s infrastructure system, but uses a plausible cyberattack scenario to investigate the potential impacts throughout society.