Wall Street Prepares for Quantum Dawn 2

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK ( MainStreet)--In what sounds like the latest Xbox near-future end-of-world title, Quantam Dawn 2 attacks Wall Street today. The cyber security exercise is designed to test response, resolution and coordination processes for the financial services industry and individual firms to a street-wide cyber attack, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which is sponsoring the drill.

"The financial industry takes the issue of cyber security very seriously and is proactively working to mitigate this threat," the association says in a release. "SIFMA is holding the Quantum Dawn 2 exercise to enable both individual firms and the sector as a whole to test their response plans in order to maintain effective and orderly markets and protect clients."

Participants are said to include financial firms of all sizes, as well as exchanges, the U.S. Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security. SIFMA says the number of expected participants is more than double that of the Quantum Dawn 1 exercise held in 2011. That event tested risk practices across equities clearing and trading processes in response to an infrastructure disruption, allowing firms to review the effectiveness of their coordinated incident response plans.

SIFMA organized today's sequel to address the "increasing threat posed to the sector by a coordinated, large scale cyber attack."

Apparently this series has legs. The association is planning yet another crisis simulation for November. That episode will simulate a pandemic influenza event, addressing the possibility of a large number of Wall Street employees being unable to work due to a widespread flu outbreak.

"We're trying to be proactive. It's something we haven't tested as a sector for a good amount of time," says Karl Schimmeck, SIFMA's vice president of financial-services operations. "For a lot of the banks, their footprints have changed dramatically over the past few years and so have their headcounts."

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick