Britain's financial services sector needs to be ready to respond more quickly to cyber-attacks, the Bank of England warned on Wednesday, as it published the results of last year's stimulated attack on the markets.
Regulators also need to be provided with more information about any attack, the central bank said in its recommendations from the so-called Waking Shark II war-game in November in which 220 people from banks, regulators and others took part.
The Bank's financial policy committee has already called on banks to do more to prepare against cyber-attacks and Waking Shark II was part of the test set for the industry to establish if it was ready for such an event.
After the exercise – which the participants thought could have been more technically challenging – the Bank said there needed to be a better form of communication across the industry, possibly through the British Bankers' Association, and also the firms hit by cyber incidents need to inform "law enforcement" about the attack, as the activities were likely to be criminal.
The Bank also highlighted the role of the new cyber security information sharing partnership, known as CISP, and a so-called fusion cell which co-ordinates with government security services.
"The CISP platform was heavily used during the exercise, truncating three days of activity into a few hours. This highlights the value of the facility in identifying and responding to a cyber-event and also the amount of work required from the Fusion Cell in managing the information," the Bank of England said.
The results of Waking Shark II – based on a concerted cyber-attack against the UK financial sector by a hostile nation state with the aim of causing significant disruption within the wholesale market and supporting infrastructure – came as Vince Cable held a summit to discuss industry's preparedness for such attacks.
"Cyber-attacks are a serious and growing threat to British businesses, but it is particularly important that those industries providing essential services such as power, telecommunications and banking are adequately protected to avoid disruption to our everyday lives," Cable said.
The Waking Shark II exercise – the first one took place in 2011 – was also stimulated to take place on "triple witching day" when futures, options on stock indices and on individual stocks all expire on the day. The attack was assumed to take place over four days and involved firms' websites being unavailable, pricing problems occurring and liquidity drying up in the fixed income markets.
When CIPS was launched last March, the government highlighted the risks of such attacks with a list of examples such as one company loosing the equivalent a 20m page Word document and an attack on Paypal.
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