Olympic Games fuels IT Security tests for UK Financial Institutions

The 2012 Olympic Games, which is being held in London, UK, will attract millions of people to the country’s capital over the course of the July and August next year. With the attention of hundreds of millions of people who will be watching around the globe, experts and police believe the games will be a vulnerable target to physical and cyber criminal attack.

Since the games were awarded to London in 2005, security and the risks to the safety of the public have been under constant review. The threats take many forms from terrorism to ticket fraud, to what some experts are calling a blended attack. This type of attack is a threat to both the physical and cyber based systems of an organisation.

With threats to the IT infrastructure of businesses a daily concern (or at least it should be!), the focus an event the magnitude the Olympics brings has meant huge organisations have started thoroughly reviewing their corporate IT operations well in advance of the 2012 games. It is estimated that the Olympics will generate £2.1 billion in tourism alone. If proper systems are not in place by the time the Olympics is underway, organisations of all sizes are exposed to the threat of cyber attacks which threaten not only the commercial operations of a company but their reputation as a business.

Financial institutions are already fully aware of the importance of the day to day threats posed and have planned an exercise later this year to fully test the sectors readiness in the event their IT infrastructures are compromised. This will provide an ample opportunity for these organisations to review their plans for the forth coming Olympic Games and analyse what is in place for this huge event.

Referred to as the Market Wide Exercise (MWE) and co-ordinated by the Financial Sector Continuity organisation, the test will be headed up the Financial Services Institution (FSA), HM Treasury and the Bank of England. This will be the sixth MWE, with the previous exercise in 2009 demanding that future tests focus more on “strategic decision making, dependence on suppliers and the return to business as usual”.

With Business Continuity a focus of the exercise, it should present opportunities for organisations to fully test their Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans. Should companies suffer any serious downtime during the Olympics, the impact on revenue, status and reputation could be irreparable, when the world tunes in to follow London in 2012.

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