U.S., Britain to stage cyber ‘war games’ in bid to boost cybersecurity

Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, pictured in a file photo. Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The United States and the U.K. will stage cyber “war games” together, starting this year, to boost both countries’ resistance to cyberattacks, Britain’s government said Thursday.

The two Western powers have also agreed to launch a joint “cyber cell” to share information on cyberthreats, as both countries seek to ramp up their cyberdefenses in the wake of alarming attacks. The FBI and the National Security Agency will be involved, along with Britain’s GCHQ and MI5 intelligence and security agencies.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were to announce the new programs as part of their meeting at the White House on Friday.

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“This is about pooling our effort so we stay one step ahead of those who seek to attack us,” Cameron said ahead of the meeting.

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The White House declined to comment.

The first round of the war games will simulate an attack on banks and the financial sectors in London and New York. In addition to the U.S. and British governments, commercial banks and the Bank of England will take part. The U.K. said there will be more exercises later to test the resilience of national infrastructure.

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The two governments also plan to team up on a new program to train a new generation of “cyber agents,” officials said. Dubbed the Fulbright Cyber Security Award, the program will fund students from both countries to research cybersecurity for up to six months, with the first class expected to start in the academic year that begins in 2016.

Closer co-ordination on cybersecurity comes amid heightened concerns about vulnerabilities in the wake of a crippling hack attack on Sony Pictures that the U.S. has blamed on North Korea. In another incident, the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command were compromised earlier this week by hackers claiming to support the Islamic State militant group.

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