December 12, 2013

Today, about 200 banks located in New York state are undergoing an interesting exercise in testing their cybersecurity measures.

The New York State Department of Financial Services last month revealed that banks that it supervises would be required to participate in a live cybersecurity test and answer questions about the policies and measures they have in place. The banks -- mostly community banks based in the state and branches of large foreign banks -- will be asked the questions in a webcast, which takes place today.

Similar exercises have happened in other parts of the world recently. Last month, banks in London were required to undergo a 'war game' simulation to test their online defenses. This came after the Bank of England told banks to ramp up their cybersecurity defenses.

Tests like these will likely become even more common as cybersecurity becomes more prevalent and more sophisticated. Hackers have been targeting everything from online video game systems to retailers to gain valuable data. But financial institutions obviously remain the number one target. And while hackers may have tended to focus on bigger banks, which have the most data to pilfer, smaller banks -- with perhaps less sophisticated defenses in place -- are increasingly being targeted.

If the results of today's simulation are made public, it certainly could shame some institutions that may not have robust cybersecurity plans in place. But in the end, if it improves security measures overall in the industry, it will have been worth it.

[Q&A: Banks Must Take a Holistic Approach to Cybersecurity]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...