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(Reuters) — Leading Western industrial powers will for the first time jointly simulate a major cross-border cybersecurity attack on the financial sector next month, French officials said on Friday.
The exercise, organized by the French central bank under France's presidency of the Group of Seven nations (G7), will be based on the scenario of a technical component widely used in the financial sector becoming infected with malware, said Nathalie Aufauvre, the Bank of France's director general for financial stability.
Institutions such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England have already conducted such tests, but the June exercise will be the first across borders at the G7 level, Ms. Aufauvre told a cybersecurity conference at the bank.
"Cyber threats are proof that we need more multilateralism and more cooperation between our countries," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the conference.
Ms. Aufauvre said the three-day exercise aimed to demonstrate the cross-border effects of such an attack, and would involve 24 financial authorities from the seven countries, comprising central banks, market authorities and finance ministries.
Representatives of the private sector in France, Italy, Germany and Japan will also participate.
The financial sector is the most common target of cyberattacks, accounting for 19% of the total, according to a recent study by IBM.
Many countries have in recent years stepped up oversight of banks and insurers' capacity to respond.
However, financial regulators in countries such as France and Germany say that requirements in some countries outside the G7 are less onerous, creating an incentive for firms to move operations there to cut costs.
Norway-based Norsk Hydro A.S.A. said that a March 19 cyber attack is likely to cost the aluminum maker up to $52 million, Reuters reported. The ransomware attack forced Norsk Hydro to halt some production and temporarily switch to manual operation. The aluminum maker said that it had purchased a cyber insurance policy to cover these types of losses.