US & UK hold joint drills to test response to cyber attacks

© Kacper Pempel
Washington and London have conducted joint exercises to test how governments, the biggest banks and multinational companies would respond to potential cyber attacks. The test comes in the wake of the TalkTalk scandal.

The simulation called Operation Resilient Shield focused on three key aspects: sharing information, handling an incident and public communication. Even before it got underway, the media was calling it the most sophisticated test of communications and co-ordination yet.

“We train and prepare for the threat of a financial cyber-incident. That is why this exercise is so important, and we will continue to work with our partners in the US to enhance our cyber cooperation,” Britain's Chancellor George Osborne said in a government statement.

Numerous bodies from both countries participated in the drills including British Computer emergency response teams (CERT-UK), Her Majesty's Treasury, and the Bank of England from the UK. The White House National Security Council, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), represented the US. The simulation was co-ordinated by CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team, in both countries.

“Confronting the cyber threat is a team effort that requires coordination at all levels,” US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said.

“Today’s exercise with our UK partners is an important step to ensure that we are doing all we can to share threat information, adopt best practices and support our collective resiliency,” he added.

Both countries insist that Operation Resilient Shield is neither a “cyber war game” nor a “live play.” One of the main goals of the drills is just “enhancing processes and mechanisms for maintaining shared awareness of cyber security threats between US and UK governments and the private sector,” according to the UK government statement.

Companies from both sides of the Atlantic are suffering from cyber-attacks. Last month such attacks threatened to compromise the personal data of four million clients of the British telecommunication company TalkTalk and 12 million customers of T-Mobile US.