Cyber attack 'war game' tests London banks

Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:28pm EST
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By Matt Scuffham and Joshua Franklin

LONDON (Reuters) - A cyber attack by a foreign government on financial markets played out in one of London's historic halls on Tuesday in a "war game" simulation designed to test the City's defenses against online saboteurs.

About 100 bankers, regulators, government officials and market infrastructure providers gathered to take part in a exercise dubbed "Waking Shark II" at Plaisterers' Hall in the heart of Britain's financial district.

Regulators and companies are growing increasingly concerned about the threat of cyber crime to the banking system, including the impact of coordinated online assaults or hacking attacks on specific lenders. The Bank of England has told banks to strengthen their defenses against cyber attacks.

One unidentified London-listed company incurred losses of 800 million pounds ($1.3 billion) in a cyber attack several years ago, according to British security services.

Tuesday's five and a half hour event ran from 1200 GMT (7:00 AM EST) and involved simulations designed to test how well banks and other market players communicate and coordinate with authorities and each other, sources told Reuters.

An industry source who attended said one of the simulations featured a cyber attack by a fake foreign government and a denial-of-service (DOS) attack, which makes network resources unavailable to users.

The source described the test as a "productive exercise" which left participants better equipped to deal with a real-life attack.

The finance ministry, Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority said the exercise had been "sustained and intensive".   Continued...

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen in east London February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth