Cyber Crime: Banks Ordered To Bolster Defences
The Bank of England is drawing up a "concrete plan" to help protect the UK's banking system from the mounting threat of cyber attack.
The development emerged in minutes of last month's meeting of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC), which is charged with safeguarding financial stability.
The FPC's move was confirmed following two recent attacks on UK banks in which Barclays and Santander branches were allegedly targeted.
It cautioned there were a number of "potential vulnerabilities" in the banking system and said it wanted banks and other institutions - including the Bank of England - to draw up plans for protection as a priority.
The UK's banking sector is particularly at risk due to old and complex IT systems, as well as a high degree of interconnectedness and its reliance on centralised infrastructure, such as payment systems and clearing houses.
Treasury officials are already working on plans to assess, test and improve the system's resilience to cyber attacks.
But the minutes of the meeting of the FPC, which is chaired by Bank governor Mark Carney, said there now needed to be a "concrete plan" in place by the end of the first quarter of 2014, with a progress report before the end of this year.
Details of the FPC's worries come just days after the Ministry of Defence announced it was creating a new Joint Cyber Reserve Unit to help defend national security as it battles against hundreds of thousands of attacks against secure government sites each year.
The Bank also separately today published plans on how to stress test banks each year, proposing to initially limit the exercise to the eight largest players - HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Standard Chartered, Santander, Nationwide Building Society and Co-operative Bank.
It has launched a consultation on the stress tests, with a deadline for feedback set for January 10 next year.