British and US agents will carry out a mock cyber attack or ‘cyber war games’ on the Bank of England and commercial banks in City of London and on Wall Street in the coming months as part of tests on critical, but vulnerable financial infrastructure.
Should banks be hacked and customers deposit accounts compromised then the vista of potential bail ins becomes a real one. In June, JP Morgan Chase were hacked by unknown parties who stole the personal details of 83 million customers.
In July of last year Bloomberg reported that malware had been detected in the system of the Nasdaq exchange. Its purpose was unclear but it was believed to have been embedded there by Russian hackers.
There is also the alleged hacking of Sony Pictures by North Korea and the alleged hacking of Facebook, Instagram and Tinder yesterday.
David Cameron announced measures two weeks ago that he said were designed to help companies, government organisations and banks and prevent a repeat of hacking attacks.
The alleged busting of a Russian spy-ring in New York on Monday, for gathering intelligence that could be used for “destabilisation of the markets”, highlights yet again that the threat posed by cyber-warfare is a growing one.
The accused is a journalist working for The News Organisation, a Russian media company which is used by Russia’s SVR intelligence agency to gather information according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.
The claim was made based on an intercepted conversation where the accused discusses with another Russian – a banker based in New York – what three questions he should ask the “New York Exchange.”
His associate suggests looking at ETFs: “How they are used, the mechanisms of use for destabilization of the markets.” He adds, “Then you can ask them what they think about limiting the use of trading robots. . . . You can also ask about the potential interest of the participants of the exchange to the products tied to the Russian Federation.”
While the claim that this conversation is evidence of espionage is a flimsy one, it along with recent events serves to highlight the vulnerability of the internet, our websites and the financial system – a system that has grown so vast and unwieldy that managing security has become and ad hoc process.
Yesterday morning social networks Facebook and Instagram were allegedly hacked by ‘Lizard Squad’, a group of hackers. The group have previously hacked Malaysian Airlines.
The first high-profile case of nation-states using cyber-warfare was the unleashing of the “stuxnet worm” – apparently created by Israel and the US – on Iran’s nuclear energy enrichment plant in Netanz in 2010. It almost caused a major environmental catastrophe.
In 2012, Iran devastated the computer network of Saudi Aramco in a similar attack.
From the above examples we can see a panorama of human activities which grow more vulnerable as hackers and cyber-warfare grow more sophisticated.
Russia’s Prime Minister Medvedev yesterday warned that if the U.S. succeeds in it’s plans to cut Russia out of the SWIFT banking transfer system, then the “Russian response – economically and otherwise – will know no limits.”
Given that a military confrontation is not desired by Russia it would seem that cyber-warfare will certainly be part of the mix that Medvedev alludes to.
Banks have been hacked, stock exchanges have been hacked and critical infrastructure have been hacked in recent years. It is likely that many of these small scale attacks have been merely testing of defenses.
A concerted attack on the western financial system would likely include attempts at disabling various exchanges including stock markets and foreign exchange markets. Banks could be attacked in such a way that bank balances, which are merely digital figures, could be erased.
In a worst case, scenario such attacks could be done in conjunction with countries hostile to the West dumping vast quantities of dollars onto the market.
In such an environment the West, which is so dependent on technology and the monetary system, would be economically paralysed and the primary wealth that would remain would be tangible wealth.
Tangible assets include gold and silver bullion, agricultural land, water, property etc. We are not predicting such an outcome. We are simply looking at the facts as they are, in the context of intense geopolitical tensions, and surmising that it would be prudent to take necessary precautions.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio put it well yesterday regarding the snow storm and echoed something we have been saying for many years now: “We obviously missed the worst of the storm.” Defending actions by his office and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shut schools and freeze regional transportation, de Blasio said that they were right to:
“Prepare for the worst but hope for the best …”
Comprehensive Guide to Bail-ins: Protecting Your Savings in the Coming Bail-in Era
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,287, EUR 1,131.93 and GBP 846.71 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,282.75, EUR 1,141.54 and GBP 854.60 per ounce.
Gold gained 1.12%, or $14.30, yesterday, closing at $1,294.70 per ounce. Silver rose $0.20, or 1.12%, to $18.09/oz.
Gold climbed yesterday as a slump in orders for U.S. durable goods signaled that weaker foreign economies are weighing on the American economy, boosting demand for gold as a safe haven.
Demand for all durable goods — items meant to last at least three years — declined 3.4 percent, the worst performance since August, the Commerce Department reported. Slowing expansion may prompt the Federal Reserve to hold off on raising interest rates which is bullish gold gold. Policy makers will meet this week.
In Singapore, gold for immediate delivery steadied above $1,290 an ounce. Holding gains from the previous session, as focus turned to whether a weaker U.S. and global economy will curb the US Federal Reserve’s claim that they intend raising interest rates.
Gold in New Delhi rebounded today by Rs 120 to Rs 28,420 per 10 grams, the Press Trust of India reports. There is a revival in gold buying to meet ongoing wedding season demand. That has snapped the two-day losing streak for gold.
Another bullish factor for gold is Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promising “radical” change today.
His new government swiftly moved to roll back key parts of Greece’s international ‘bailout’, prompting a third day of losses on financial markets.
A swift series of announcements signalled the newly installed government would not back down from its anti austerity and debt writedown pledges, setting it on course for a clash with the Troika. The IMF and ECB have said they will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its debts.
Even before the first meeting of the new cabinet, new ministers were on the airwaves reassuring voters they would honour campaign pledges to roll back the tough economic policies imposed under Greece’s 240 billion-euro bank bailout programme.
Silver for immediate delivery fell 0.1 percent to $18.11 an ounce. Platinum was unchanged at $1,263 an ounce while palladium rose 0.5 percent to $788.75 an ounce.