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Waking Shark II: Cyber ‘war game’ to test London bank defences

In one of the largest exercises of its kind, thousands of staff across dozens of London banks will be tested next week on how well they can handle a major cyber-attack.

Dubbed 'Waking Shark II', the simulation on 12 November will test the response of financial firms when they are faced with an attack that hits their computer systems and affects stock exchanges, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The 'war game' will be coordinated by the Bank of England, the Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority, as well as staff from the financial firms. The focus will be on investment banking operations but will also deal with the availability of cash from ATM machines and a potential liquidity squeeze in the wholesale market, as well as the fall out on social media.

In September, Barclays bank was the victim of a £1.3 million cyber robbery, which led to the arrest of eight men. A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said at the time that the attack was carried out through the use of a device that allowed remote access to its computers.

"These arrests form part of a covert operation designed to tackle major cyber-led crime," said detective superintendent Terry Wilson. "We believe that someone had posed as an engineer to enter the Swiss Cottage branch of Barclays and had managed to fit a device which gave them remote access to their computers. With this remote access they could siphon off cash from customer accounts.

"This was a highly-organised criminal network with each individual filling a specific role. All criminal networks have a head and we very much believe we have now apprehended our 'Mr Big' as part of this operation."

Other firms have been growing increasingly worried about the threat of cyber crime. Earlier this week, Microsoft extended a bug bounty scheme that offers a $100,000 (£62,000) reward to incident response teams and forensic experts who identify and report active threats.