The UK and US have agreed to a series of simulated cyber attacks to test each other’s resilience.
The first exercise will be simulated attacks on the City of London and Wall Street amid growing fears about the vulnerability of the financial sector.
US Cyber Consequences Unit chief Scott Borg is on record as saying manipulation of international financial markets will be the next evolution of cyber crime.
In November 2014, a University of Cambridge researcher told a treasury select committee banks are under-reporting cyber fraud because they do not want to scare customers.
Subsequent exercises will test the resilience of critical national infrastructure, which is another key area of concern on both sides of the Atlantic.
In both countries, most of the critical national infrastructure is owned and run by the private sector, with many networks connected to the internet.
The cyber war games agreement was announced as prime minister David Cameron held talks with president Barack Obama in the US.
The two leaders also agreed that intelligence agents from GCHQ, MI5, the National Security Agency and the FBI will co-operate in “cyber cells” in both countries to improve the sharing of information about cyber threats, reported the BBC.
Cyber threats a ‘growing danger’
Cameron described cyber attacks as “one of the big modern threats we face”, while Obama said cyber threats were an “urgent and growing danger”.
There has been a renewed focus on cyber security in the US after the devastating breach of computer systems at Sony Pictures and the compromise of the US Central Command’s social media accounts.
Sony Pictures has admitted it was unprepared for the nature and extent of the cyber attack that hit the company in November 2014.
Obama is expected to focus on cyber security in his State of the Union address on 20 January 2015.
He recently previewed the address in a speech at the US Federal Trade Commission, in which he outlined some of the legislation he would like the US Congress to pass.
Obama wants a new Consumer Bill of Rights that includes legislation on personal data protection. The bill would standardise data breach notification laws by requiring all US companies to alert customers within 30 days of discovering a security breach of customer data.
Monitoring communications of terror suspects
During the Washington talks, Cameron was expected to ask Obama to press big US internet firms like Facebook to co-operate with intelligence agencies in monitoring the communications of terror suspects, reported The Guardian.
The prime minister recently outlined plans to introduce new legislation to allow intelligence agencies to break into encrypted communications of suspects.
But Cameron has come under fire for the plans that could block encrypted messaging apps under new surveillance powers he is seeking in reaction to the recent terror attacks in France.
He reportedly said services that allow people to communicate without providing access to their messages pose a serious challenge to law enforcement efforts to combat terrorism.
Cameron indicated he will consider banning communication channels that cannot be read by the security services even if they have a warrant, but did not say how this might be enforced.
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