Ethical Hackers 'To Target 20 UK Banks'
Leading banks are to be targeted by a team of "white hat" hackers to assess their ability to withstand cyber terrorism and crime.
The Bank of England will oversee the "ethical hacking" to rate the computer systems of more than 20 major banks and financial players.
The plans were reported by the Financial Times, and described as "unprecedented" in the UK.
The newspaper quoted one unnamed insider as saying: "The UK is leading the world on this - it is groundbreaking stuff."
Computer experts who attempt to breach online security for non-malicious reasons are known as white hat hackers.
The move comes amid concerns over the Heartbleed bug, which was discovered earlier this month and is one of the biggest security flaws the internet has ever known.
While most businesses conduct their own regular testing, this is reported to be the first time authorities will oversee the process.
The FT says the Royal Bank of Scotland is likely to be among the banks to take part, as well as the London Stock Exchange.
Last year the banking sector rehearsed their response to a major attack, however individual companies' systems were not tested.
The Bank of England has said cyber security should be a key focus for financial institutions, to root out any flaws.
Last year computer systems at South Korean broadcasters and banks were targeted, as part of an attack blamed on North Korea.