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The more things are connected via the Internet, the greater the risk of physical harm and unintended consequences. (Photo: iStock)

Imagine for a moment that your organization is the victim of a cyber attack or widespread technology failure. You’re probably picturing a data breach, ransomware, or some sort of business interruption event. Each is scary and costly in its own right. But what if the peril extended beyond a breach, financial loss, and any resulting reputational harm? What if people’s lives were at risk?

It may sound like science fiction, but bodily harm is the next frontier in cyber risk. All computers can be hacked or fail, and when they do, so too do the mechanical processes they increasingly control. Even though most cyber attacks — and computer failures — don’t start out with destructive intent, the unintended consequences of even a simple ransomware attack or systems failure can, and increasingly will, have physical consequences.

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