IMF, 10 countries simulate cyber attack on the global financial system, Telecom News, ET Telecom

Israeli financial cyber officials take part in a simulation of a major cyber attack on the global financial system with 9 other countries, the World Bank and the IMF at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem December 9, 2021 REUTERS / Ammar Awad

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM: Israel led a 10-country simulation of a major cyberattack on the global financial system on Thursday in an effort to strengthen cooperation that could help minimize potential damage to financial markets and banks.

The simulated cyberattack developed over 10 days, with sensitive data surfacing on the dark web along with fake news reports that ultimately caused chaos in global markets and a run on banks.

The simulation included various types of attacks affecting global currency and bond markets, liquidity, data integrity, and transactions between importers and exporters.

“These events are causing chaos in the financial markets,” said a spokesman for a film shown to participants as part of the simulation and seen on Reuters.

Israeli officials said that such threats were possible after the many high-profile cyberattacks on large companies and that the damage could only be contained through global cooperation, as current cybersecurity is not always strong enough.

“Attackers are ten steps ahead of the defender,” Micha Weis, financial cyber manager at the Israeli finance ministry, told Reuters.

Participants in the initiative, called “Collective Strength,” included tax officials from Israel, the United States, Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Thailand, as well as representatives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Bank for international settlement.

The narrator of the film in the simulation said governments were under pressure to investigate the effects of the attack that crippled the global financial system.

“Banks are calling for immediate liquidity assistance in a variety of currencies to end the chaos as counterparties withdraw their funds and restrict access to liquidity, leaving banks in disarray and ruin,” the spokesman said.

The participants discussed multilateral measures to respond to the crisis, including a coordinated bank holiday, grace periods for debt repayment, SWAP / REPO agreements and a coordinated decoupling of major currencies.

Rahav Shalom-Revivo, another Israeli cyber finance official, said such a far-reaching attack on the global financial system would have to be carried out by sophisticated attackers.

The simulation was originally supposed to take place at the Dubai World Expo, but was moved to Jerusalem due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which officials attended via video conference.

Some of the participants said that in a real cyber attack situation, governments would act faster than in the simulation.

A European tax official said that if such an attack were to occur, his country would not wait 10 days to act.

“As soon as the supply of money in at least the European Union was hampered, we would probably have an emergency meeting on the same day,” he said, adding that he would immediately address colleagues across Europe and the US.

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