Bank of England to test finance sector's cyber security

Day-long war gaming exercise will see how prepared the UK's financial sector is to cyber attacks

Bank of England with Wellington statue

On Friday the Bank of England (BoE) will host a day-long war gaming exercise designed to test the financial sector's resilience to a major cyber incident.

The test will be conducted in partnership with industry and other UK financial authorities (HM Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority)and will involve up to 40 British firms. The aim is to see how prepared financial firms are to any major disruption and how well they respond.

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The exercise is part of an annual event, hosted by BoE with input from the National Cyber Security Centre, that looks to shore up the industry and protect the financial systems on which the public relies.

"The exercise will help authorities and firms identify improvements to our collective response arrangements, improving the resilience of the sector as a whole," the BoE said in a statement.

The tests will not be conducted on a pass or fail basis but the BoE is expected to publish some of the lessons learned during the exercise.

The need to test cyber security systems has never been more pressing with companies, both within and beyond the financial sector reporting serious breaches recently.

Earlier in November, HSBC reported a data breach in the US that saw hackers access vast amounts of its customer's data in October. This followed news of multiple airlines such as British Airways, Air Canada and Cathay Pacific all reporting breaches of data. There have even been attacks on organisations such as FIFA and the NHS in recent years, highlighting the scale and reach of malicious actors.

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For Jake Moore, a cyber security expert at ESET UK, the need for rigorous testing is a necessity as its no longer a case of 'if' but 'when' with cyber attacks.

"Anything that improves cyber response is a thumbs up from me," he said. "Cyber attacks aren't a possibility, they are an eventuality so we will never have enough people, systems or money to prevent or detect an attack. Therefore, you need to invest in training as well as multiple prevention techniques to make it work.

"However, it is not always as simple as that, so making training engaging and even fun adds impact to the way it sinks in and quickly makes it second nature."

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