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Financial institutions to run cyber pandemic preparedness drill

| 09.26.2007 | 07:08:374825 |
September 26 '07: The Associated Press reported that more than 2,700 financial institutions will participate in a cyber pandemic preparedness drill under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Treasury. The drill, which began at the beginning of the week, "is scheduled to run for three weeks," and will cover topics such as absenteeism, the transfer of money and the economic infrastructure's security during a bird flu outbreak.
"According to the doomsday scenario devised by the Treasury, a number of cases of bird flu in humans are reported overseas and the illness spreads quickly to the United States by people traveling on international flights," the AP reported. "One of the biggest challenges financial institutions will face is how to cope with absenteeism."

Valerie Abend, the deputy assistant secretary for critical infrastructure protection with the Treasury told the AP, the exercise, in partnership with the financial institutions "shows how much the business sector is focused on pandemic flu planning."

The practice drill was developed with the help of government scientists and spurred by a presidential directive from the Bush administration in 2006.

Other challenges faced will be "shrinking Internet bandwidths as more and more people try to work from home. [And] cash withdrawals from ATM machines are expected to rise sharply and getting the machines refilled will present problems because of rising absentee rates at the armored car companies and the difficulty of getting fuel for the armored trucks as gasoline refineries curtail their production," the AP wrote.