Bank of England sends in hackers to test lenders’ defences

 

EConomics Editor

The Bank of England is to let hackers loose on Britain’s biggest banks to test their defences against cyber-attacks.

Under the Bank’s new framework, known as CBEST, hackers working for private security firms will identify the vulnerabilities of individual institutions, and replicate the methods of malicious attackers.

The Bank said its simulation would be superior to the digital security checks currently used by financial firms because it would be based on real threat intelligence and focus on the more sophisticated potential attacks on systems.

The move follows last year’s recommendation from the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee to beef up the resilience of the financial system to malicious hacking and cyber-crime.

Andrew Gracie, the Bank’s executive director of resolution, unveiled the new framework at the British Bankers’ Association cyber conference. “The idea of CBEST is to bring together the best available threat intelligence from government and elsewhere, tailored to the business model and operations of individual firms, to be delivered in live tests, within a controlled testing environment,” he said.

“Unlike physical attacks which are localised, these attacks are international and know no boundaries. Cyber defence, as a result, has become not a matter of designing a hard perimeter that can repel attacks but detecting where networks have been penetrated and responding effectively.”

The results, including the extent of the access the licensed hackers gain and the damage they could potentially cause, will be shared with both the individual banks and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

“The results should provide a direct read-out on a firm’s capability to withstand cyber-attacks which – on the basis of current intelligence – have the most potential, combining probability and impact, to have an adverse impact on financial stability” Mr Gracie said.

The industry will not be forced to take part but the Bank, which unveiled CBEST unofficially two weeks ago, has seen strong interest from financial institutions. It will cost a bank about £100,000 to have its systems tested under the new regime, which cost about £200,000 to develop.

The internet security giant McAfee has estimated the global cost of cyber-crime at £266bn. In December, the Royal Bank of Scotland said its platform was briefly attacked by hackers, causing problems for customers trying to get access to their accounts.

The Bank expects to have 18 testing companies and nine intelligence firms accredited to carry out the tests after working with the Council for Registered Ethical Security Testers and the intelligence firm Digital Shadows to develop new industry  standards.

The Bank told City firms in February they needed to act more quickly and report to regulators in more detail if they became subject to cyber-attacks from criminal gangs or terrorists. The warning followed a three-day exercise, Waking Shark II, which simulated an attack on the City.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy