Leading UK banks are taking part in a cyber war games drill on Tuesday to test their ability to deal with cyber attacks.
The operation, dubbed Waking Shark II, is being co-ordinated by the Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority. It will see officials gather in the City to assess the impact of a major computer attack and its aftermath on top banks.
Banks such as Barclays and RBS are believed to be taking part in the operation, which follows a similar exercise carried out in 2011 under the name Waking Shark.
The war games scenario comes as the threats to banks and major institutions around the world increase, as criminals and government-backed hacker groups develop sophisticated cyber weapons to steal data and money, and to disrupt day-to-day operations.
V3 contacted the Bank of England for more insight into the types of tests and scenarios that would be used in the operation on Tuesday, but had received no reply at the time of publication.
David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said such tests were an important way for firms to evaluate their responses to major incidents.
“These kinds of exercises provide a good opportunity to put people and organisations through their paces, much like the army does when practising manoeuvres,” he said.
“They can never be a substitute for a real-life attack. But they can, however, force people to think about the situation they are faced with and what they would do in that very moment.”
Emm also said it was important for those involved to make sure they fully evaluate the outcome of the tests. “What happens in the aftermath of such training programmes is also important: it’s essential for participants to examine how the scenario played out and what lessons can be learned for the future,” he said.
“It is important for organisations in all sectors to look at the risks cyber threats pose and iron out their own individual scenarios for dealing with an attack."
Jarno Limnell, director of cyber security at Stonesoft, echoed these points and said it was a good sign that such important industries were aware of the need to test their response to cyber issues.
“These banking simulations highlight the growing recognition that financial sectors need to protect themselves from threats residing in the cyber world,” he said.
“Financial markets in the UK form the backbone of the British economy, so it is vital that cyber security is not only front-of-mind, but that everyone in the organisation is prepared through comprehensive training.”
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