LONDON Feb 5 Britain's financial, transport and
energy industries said they will strengthen their defences
against cyber attacks, building on a war-game simulation where
banks came under assault from "a hostile nation state".
Cyber attacks are increasing in regularity and severity as
"hacktivists" and criminals become more sophisticated. Banks are
frequently targeted by co-ordinated online assaults or hacks on
London's financial community tested its resilience in a
war-game simulation in November, when investment banks and
exchanges were tested against a concerted cyber attack "by a
hostile nation state with the aim of causing significant
disruption/dislocation", the Bank of England (BoE) said on
Wednesday in a report on findings from the event.
About 220 bankers, regulators, government officials and
market infrastructure providers took part in the exercise,
dubbed "Waking Shark II". A similar exercise was held in 2011,
and New York also held one last year, called "Quantum Dawn 2".
The simulated attacks disrupted services, wiped data and
caused liquidity and funding issues for investment banks, the
BoE said. There were also problems with payments, calculating
overnight risk and margins, and clearing trades.
The BoE said the one-day exercise was a successful test of
systems and any future test may include retail banking
The report coincided with a meeting on Wednesday of UK
lawmakers and regulators from Britain's financial, transport and
energy sectors, as well as from its telecoms and water
industries. They pledged to lay out a common set of objectives
to protect essential services in the event of attack.
British Business Secretary Vince Cable said cyber security
was "a top tier national security priority".
In December state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland said
its platform was briefly attacked by hackers, causing problems
for customers accessing accounts.
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.
Cyber criminals, extortionists and hacktivists - politically
motivated hackers - may also be trying to influence share prices
and interfere with commodity exchanges with the use of their
distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
"Since 2011, and growing in 2012 and 2013, DDoS attack
campaigns have become a significant threat to financial firms,"
security firm Prolexic Technologies said in a recent report.
DDoS attacks bombard websites with huge volumes of traffic
from multiple systems so they overload a server.
It can be hard to track the root of the attacks and it is
often not clear why they take place - they may have no motive or
could be a show of dissent by disgruntled customers or
Prolexic said attacks on multiple U.S. securities and
commodity exchanges ran for three months in 2012, co-ordinated
by a group that claimed to support the Occupy Wall Street
movement and was critical of international banks.