As cyberattacks detonate, banks prepare for coming war

An elaborate drill dubbed ‘Quantum Dawn 2' will take place this week to test preparations.
By CHRISTINA REXRODE and MARCY GORDON Published: July 17, 2013
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It's a war game, Wall Street style.

Banks large and small are girding for an elaborate drill this week that will test how they would fare if hackers unleashed a powerful and coordinated attack against them.

The exercise is being called “Quantum Dawn 2,” and if the name sounds like a video game, it's also meant to convey the seriousness of the threat.

Cyberattacks on the banking industry are growing more frequent and sophisticated and the list of assailants is ever-changing: crime bosses who want money, “hacktivists” who want to make political statements, foreign governments that want to spy on U.S. companies. A successful, widespread attack on the industry would shake confidence in the banking system, and the possibility has banks and regulators on edge.

As the name suggests, this isn't the first “Quantum Dawn.” The original drill was in November 2011, and it attracted scant attention and only about half as many participants. But that was before a wave of cyberattacks last fall, when big banks were forced to temporarily shut down their websites after attackers bombarded them with traffic — akin to overwhelming a phone line with too many calls.

THE BARRAGE: Software giant Symantec calculates that cyberattacks against U.S. businesses jumped 42 percent last year. Banks, though, are reluctant to give more details about how they're affected for fear of becoming a target, and attacks often go undetected and unreported.

HIGH ALERT: Whatever the number, banks and the government are on high alert. President Barack Obama warned about international hacking against the banking industry in February's State of the Union address. He later met with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and other business leaders to discuss the threat.

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