A cyberattack on a major US bank could have significant spillovers to other lenders, with serious implications for the whole financial system, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The report models how a cyberattack on a single large bank, a group of smaller banks or a common service provider can be transmitted through the wholesale payments network.
The researchers estimate that a hit on a big five bank would affect more than a third of the assets in the whole network.
The extent of the amplification would be even greater if banks respond strategically, which, the authors argue, they are likely to do if there is uncertainty about the attack. Liquidity hoarding would have a dramatic impact on forgone payment activity, reaching more than 2.5 times daily GDP.
"High-value payment and settlement systems may be a natural candidate for a malicious attacker intent on inflicting the largest possible damage to the financial system and the broader economy," says the paper.