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Bank of England to simulate cyber attacks on banks

Bank of England and US Treasury will gauge communications during hacking onslaughts

Banking written in red surrounded by coding

The Bank of England and the US Treasury are to run simulated cyber attacks later this month, to test financial institutions' ability to withstand hacking threats.

The simulation, called Operation Resilient Shield, is the most sophisticated assessment of communication and network organisation to date, and comes after the Bank of England tested vulnerabilities present in high profile UK banks last year.

Announced in January by Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit with President Barack Obama, Operation Resilient Shield will be thefirst joint exercise to gauge banks' response to hackers looking to steal information or devastate the financial sector on a transatlantic scale.

While past trials have investigated UK banks' personnel response and the coordination between financial institutions and regulators, this operation will test communication channels between the two governments, between the governments and their banks, and among the affected banks.

The findings of the Waking Shark 2 programme, revealed last year, reiterated the necessity of communication coordination in the event of a major cyber attack.

Resilient Shield will be co-ordinated in both countries by CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team.

"Both leaders agreed to bolster efforts to enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in both countries, strengthen threat information sharing, and intelligence cooperation on cyber issues, and support new educational exchanges between US and British cybersecurity scholars and researchers,"said the White House at the time of the state visit in January.

The Bank of England has paid greater attention to cyber security recently, having probed a number of British insurance firms' defences back in August.

Operation Resilient Shield comes just after last month's TalkTalk cyber attack, where hackers made off with 1.2 million customers' email addresses, names and phone numbers.

The mobile operator has also confirmed that 28,000 obscured credit and debit cards details were stolen, along with 21,000 bank account numbers and sort codes,and around 15,000 dates of birth.

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