The British and American government have conducted a joint exercise to test responses to a “cyber incident in the finance sector.”

The drill comes amid growing concern over the possible economic fallout of a major cyber attack on global financial systems. Indeed, in June a German government minister warned that cyber-threats represent ‘one of the biggest challenges’ in the coming years.

Collective Resiliency

The war game between the UK and USA has been on the cards for a while now. It was back in January when President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron announced that exercises would be carried out between the two nations, as part of an enhanced transatlantic engagement on cybersecurity.

They said at the time that the drill “reflects the importance of international cooperation in cyberspace, especially given the interconnectedness of the global financial system.”

It was revealed at that time that British and American security officials would team up to attack each other’s financial districts. Later drills will see simulated attacks on critical infrastructure such as transport systems and energy supplies.

New York and London are the world’s biggest financial centres, and both Wall Street and the City of London took part in the test that focused on three main areas. The first area was how the cities responded and recovered from a cyber attack. The second was how the cities perform on information sharing, and the third was to do with public communications.

“The exercise was not a test of individual financial firms or of financial systems,” said both countries.

“In our increasingly interconnected world, cyber criminals do not respect national borders and they target government, private industry and individual citizens alike,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew in a joint statement.

“Confronting the cyber threat is a team effort that requires coordination at all levels,” said Lew. “Today’s exercise with our UK partners is an important step to ensure that we are doing all we can to share threat information, adopt best practices and support our collective resiliency.”

“Our national security is a priority for this government and that includes defending our cyber space,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

“We train and prepare for the threat of a financial cyber-incident,” said the Chancellor. “That is why this exercise is so important, and we will continue to work with our partners in the US to enhance our cyber cooperation.”

Who Won?

On the US side, agencies that took part included the White House National Security Council; the US Department of the Treasury; the US Department of Homeland Security; the FBI; the US Secret Service; the US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the US Federal Reserve Bank of New York; the US Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; the US Intelligence Community; and a number of unnamed financial institutions and industry groups among others.

The Brits meanwhile fielded the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance; Her Majesty’s Treasury; the Computer Emergency Response Team; the National Crime Agency; the UK Intelligence Community; the Bank of England; the Financial Conduct Authority, and unnamed financial institutions and industry groups.

There was no word on how good (or bad) the American and British financial centres dealt with the drill.

In August managed service provider, Advanced 365, warned that financial services firms need to adopt more widespread use of emerging technologies to neutralise the threat of damaging security attacks.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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