Bank of England to simulate cyber attacks to test threat response

The attacks will test how prepared 20 of the UK's major banking institutions are

Cyber security

The Bank of England will test banking vulnerabilities with a number of high-profile institutions to test how prepared they are should a cyber attack occur.

The ethical hacking programme will use real-life scenarios to see how prepared 20 of the UK's most prolific banks and financial organisations are.

The Financial Times reported the Bank of England has collated the intelligence from the latest threats "in the criminal world, terrorists and rogue states."

Andrew Gracie, the director of the UK's special resolution unit within the Bank of England, will oversee the programme, which will involve cyber specialists who have been pre-approved to carry out 'penetration testing'.

Although the Bank of England hasn't revealed which institutions will be involved in the scheme, The Financial Times speculates the Royal Bank of Scotland and the London Stock Exchange will both take part.

The Bank of England put cyber threats as one of its top priorities last year, urging the Treasury, Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority to put together a plan to test the financial sector's resilience to cyber attacks.

This new initiative will address the findings of a report conducted in February that stated one organisation was needed to oversee the communications strategy of the banking sector should their systems be targeted by hackers.

Last year, the Bank of England ran a project called Waking Shark 2 that tested how financial institutions would react should a cyber attack happen.

The one-day simulation event invited 220 people from 20 institutions including infrastructure providers and government agencies to react to a sustained cyber attack.

The findings of the event were presented in a report by Chris Keeling who commented: "Whilst there was some communication between the participating firms and the [financial market infrastructures] and good communications with the authorities, it was identified that there is no formal communication coordination within the wider sector."

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