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Financial sector prepares IT security test ahead of Olympic Games

UK financial authorities will be carrying out a major IT security planning exercise later this year to test the sector's preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA), HM Treasury and the Bank of England will be leading the plan to conduct the sixth Market Wide Exercise (MWE) in November 2011 to improve the sector's crisis response plans and update business continuity.

The exercise will provide an additional opportunity to test firms' "preparedness" for the Olympic Games, including cyber attacks.

"We expect the scenario to provide an opportunity for relevant firms to assess their Olympic planning preparedness, including transport and staff absence, dependency on suppliers, and in particular telecommunications and internet as well as the return to business as usual," said the UK Financial Sector Continuity organisation.

"The scenario that delivers these objectives could involve physical and cyber attacks that coincide with the Olympic Games."

But some experts are warning that the exercise will also reveal a security skills gap.

Philip Virgo, secretary general of information society alliance Eurim, expects the exercise to reveal a shortage of information security professionals able to deal with the influx of people using financial services and the increase in e-commerce and fraud scams fuelled by the 2012 Games.

The information security community admits it needs better training in a variety of technology areas to address the skills gap, according to the 2011 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study conducted by analyst Frost & Sullivan.

The MWE is scheduled for November 2011. The last such exercise was held in November 2009 and involved 76 organisations.


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