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8/2/2004
05:10 PM
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Financial Institutions Prepared For Threats

Business-continuity plans are in order and the sector is open for business as usual.

One day after Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge raised the terrorism threat level from yellow to orange for financial institutions in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., banks reiterated their preparedness against a Sept. 11-type attack, and restated their commitment to safeguarding their physical and technology assets.

Although New York City has been at the orange alert level since Sept. 11, the alert issued Sunday was the first to identify specific targets, including Citigroup buildings, the New York Stock Exchange, and Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey, as well as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.

It's also the first to identify a threat directed at a specific industry.

The financial-services sector is "open for business as usual," Donald Donahue, sector coordinator for banking and finance and chairman of the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, said in a statement Monday.

In the years since Sept. 11, financial-services companies have taken additional steps to safeguard their security, including hardened data centers and increasing the distance between their main data centers and backup sites. The industry has spared no expense in ensuring business continuity in the face of attack. "It's highly unlikely that an attack, even if successful, on any single node in the U.S. financial system would significantly disrupt the system," says Bill Cline, global managing partner of capital markets at Accenture.

Banks and securities firms declined to comment on whether the heightened threat alert had triggered any stepped-up security measures. Spokespersons for World Bank and Prudential, two of the named targets, expressed confidence in the adequacy of their security plans.

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