October 12, 2023

Exercise Examines Financial Sector Resilience

Event convenes with Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, U.S.

Composite image featuring lock icons, a building icon, and an outline of the country of Finland with its national flag overlaid on it

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory helped design an exercise to examine financial sector resilience.

(Image composition by Shannon Colson | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

What happens if a cyberattack or physical event disrupts a country’s financial sector and interrupts access to banks or other financial services? Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) designed and conducted an international exercise to help the financial sector find out.

Hosted by the Ministry of Finance of Finland, the "Northern Bastion" exercise was held August 29 – 30, 2023, to improve financial sector resilience with U.S. and regional partners. A team of PNNL researchers, including Doug Nordwall, principle cybersecurity researcher; Dan Sanner, cybersecurity engineer; Bri Mostoller, cybersecurity analyst; Jordan Seaman, cybersecurity engineer; Sarah Ullmann, instructional designer; and Lori Ross O’Neil, senior cybersecurity engineer, brought their technical training and instructional design, international engagement, and cybersecurity expertise to the design and facilitation of the event.

“As event designers and facilitators, our team brought a macro-view of cyber threats to the financial sector. During the exercise we saw the proverbial light bulb moments when participants realized their cybersecurity plans were very good, but testing them with partners before an event was critical,” said O’Neil.

Over two days, governments and financial authorities from the Northern Baltic Sea region, including representatives from finance ministries, central banks, financial regulators, and cybersecurity agencies, came together to explore best practices to sustain the financial sector continuity through cross-border coordination and cooperation. Research partner Software Engineering Institute also attended to assist with the exercise. The exercise scenario focused on an incident in which concurrent cybersecurity and physical infrastructure events disrupt the digital processes of the financial sector across borders.

“Several countries and ministries stated they came away from the event with new insights into their processes and procedures. They also recognized a need for better information sharing between not only their internal agencies, but also between the countries. Several participants also expressed a desire for follow-on efforts with expanded scope,” said Nordwall.

To learn more, see “Finland conducts financial sector resilience exercise with U.S. and regional partners.”

Published: October 12, 2023