Cybersecurity Exercise: Quantum Dawn V

Quantum Dawn is a series of cybersecurity exercises that enable financial institutions and the sector, as a whole, to practice and improve coordination with key industry and government partners in order to maintain financial markets operations in the event of a systemic cyber-attack.

Exercise Purpose

Quantum Dawn V, a global exercise, enabled key public and private bodies around the globe to practice coordination and exercise incident response protocols, both internally and externally, to maintain smooth functioning of the financial markets when faced with a series of sector-wide global cyberattacks. The exercise helped identify the roles and responsibilities of key participants in managing global crises with cross-border impacts. The exercise scenario emphasized cross-jurisdiction communication and coordination between member firms and regulatory agencies in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Exercise Objectives

  1. Identify key public and private sector participants who would lead their firms, organizations or jurisdiction during a global cyber disruption.
  2. Bring the Financial Sector together in a unified exercise to build global response and recovery capabilities and identify participants’ roles and responsibilities.
  3. Test operational resiliency key concepts across the Financial Sector.
  4. Improve coordination and information sharing across the sector around detecting, responding to, and recovering from a global disruption, including between:
    • SIFMA, AFME and ASFIMA member firms
    • Across regions between organizations responsible for crisis management, regulatory bodies and central banks.

After-Action Report

A clear takeaway from the exercise is the importance of a robust partnership between the industry and government grounded in information sharing. No single actor – not the federal government, nor any individual firm – has the resources to protect markets from cyber threats on their own.

SIFMA worked with Protiviti to release an After-Action Report with takeaways and key recommendations from the Quantum Dawn V cybersecurity exercise aimed to help the sector strengthen its readiness to defend critical financial services infrastructure from an array of cyberattacks and extreme scenarios.

Those recommendations include:

  • Create a Directory of Critical Stakeholders and Key Contacts:
    • Creating a directory of financial services firms and key trade organizations, regulatory bodies, central banks and government agencies that would respond to a global cyber or physical event is a good first step for the industry.
  • Conduct Periodic Exercises:
    • The industry should schedule regular touchpoints and exercises. These exercises could be a catalyst for developing global information-sharing capabilities and incident response and recovery protocols for critical public- and private-sector organizations and contacts.
  • Enhance Information Sharing Capabilities:
    • Enhancing existing information-sharing networks, with organizations that currently manage crises in their respective jurisdictions, is key to building stronger cross-border information sharing between the public and private sector.

Quantum Dawn V After-Action Report

Key Facts of Quantum Dawn V

Quantum Dawn V took place on November 7, 2019.

The exercise was not a pass/fail test but rather an opportunity for participants to interact across functions internally and with partners externally, both locally and globally, and to exercise their crisis response and communications plans.

In this exercise:

  • Over 600 participants from over 180 financial institutions and government agencies from Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, and the U.S. participated
  • Participating entities included securities firms, banks, asset managers, FS-ISAC, and financial market infrastructure providers of all sizes
  • The exercise allowed regulators, central banks and government entities, including U.S. Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Bank of England, Bank of Canada, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Honk Kong Monetary Authority, Reserve Bank of India and others to participate or observe
  • Simulation was “closed loop” – no real-world systems were utilized or impacted
  • This was a distributed exercise, meaning that organizations participated from their own locations to further enhance the realism of the simulation and make use of real-world communication systems like email and phone.


  • Quantum Dawn I & II: In November of 2011 and July 2013 the financial services sector, in conjunction with service provider Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI), organized two market-wide cybersecurity exercises called Quantum Dawn I and Quantum Dawn II, respectively. Those events provided a forum for participants to exercise risk practices across equities trading and clearing processes and market closure protocols in response to a systemic attack on market infrastructure.
  • Quantum Dawn III: Whereas Quantum Dawn II focused on exercising procedures for informing decision making for closing the equity markets, Quantum Dawn III, held September 2015, focused on exercising procedures to maintain market operations in the event of a systemic attack. Participants first experienced firm-specific attacks, followed by rolling attacks upon equity exchanges and alternative trading systems that disrupted equity trading without forcing a close. The concluding attack centered on a failure of the overnight settlement process at a clearinghouse.
  • Quantum Dawn IV: Held in November 2017, Quantum Dawn IV used service providers NUARI (Norwich University Applied Research Institutes), its latest version of the DECIDE FS, and the SimSpace Corporation’s Cyber Range software for the simulation and execution of the exercise. In a change from previous exercises, Day 1 of Quantum Dawn IV provided a real-life “hands-on-keyboard” exercise for participating institutions to test their technical cyber response capabilities. Day 2 involved participants engaging in a sector-wide simulation to test their crisis response, communication, and coordination capabilities that revolved around a simulated “bad day” on Wall Street in which a large-scale targeted cyberattack is made against numerous financial institutions and news organizations, with rolling impacts for the sector, markets, and customers.

Additional Information and Resources

Quantum Dawn V is just one component of how SIFMA is working with its members on a variety of cybersecurity initiatives, including:

  • Promoting enhanced regulatory harmonization to encourage a more effective allocation of cyber resources
  • Promoting a robust industry-government partnership grounded in information sharing
  • Designing exercises and industry tests to improve protocols for incident preparedness, response and recovery
  • Using the lessons learned to refine industry best practices, including for managing insider threats, third party risk; penetration testing and data security, including secure data storage and recovery.

Learn more with these additional resources: 

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