First U.S.-U.K. Cyber ‘War Game’ to Target Banks

Financial institutions will be first up in the countries' new series of war games designed to thwart cyber-crime.
Matthew HellerJanuary 19, 2015
First U.S.-U.K. Cyber ‘War Game’ to Target Banks

The first cyber war game to be staged as part of a new U.S.-U.K. offensive against online criminals will target the countries’ financial sectors.

WarGamesGiving a cyber-spin to the countries’ “Special Relationship,” British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the United States and United Kingdom will be staging mock cyber-attacks on each other, with the first exercise taking place later this year to involve the Bank of England and commercial banks.

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The war games will be used to assess the quality of large financial institutions’ defenses against malicious hacking designed to paralyze their operations, The Independent reported.

“This is an evolving threat which poses a real risk to our businesses, and that is why we are taking our cooperation with the U.S. to an unprecedented level,” Cameron said as he arrived in Washington on Thursday for talks with President Barack Obama.

The Financial Times noted that Cameron has “prioritized the online security of companies and agencies” following the hacking attack on Sony Pictures late last year and the leaking of senior executives’ communications.

According to a British government report released Friday, more than 80% of large companies in the U.K. reported some form of security breach in 2014, costing between $900,000 and $2.2 million. JPMorgan Chase was among at least five banks that were reported to have been hacked last year.

Downing Street said the planned war games will aim to improve the flow of information between the two countries about cyber-threats. Further exercises will test critical national infrastructure, such as the computer systems controlling power supplies and road and rail networks, The Independent said.

Britain and the United States will also establish a joint “cyber cell” on each side of the Atlantic, with intelligence agents from MI5 and FBI working together to share information about threats and respond to any attempted attack.

“The joint exercises and training of our next generation of cyber experts will help to ensure that we have the capability we need to protect critical sectors  . . .  from emerging threats,” Cameron said.

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