Hundreds of financial institutions will practice fending off cyber-attacks in simulations this month sponsored by SWACHA and the Financial Services — Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

The free two-day simulations, held on Oct. 16-17 and Oct. 23-24, are designed to help banks identify the strong and weak points in their responses to cyber-attacks, according to a joint Thursday press release from SWACHA and FISAC.

"This exercise will allow financial institutions to evaluate their current procedures and identify any potential gaps in their systems in the face of an actual cyber-attack," SWACHA President and Chief Executive Dennis Simmons said in the release. "Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated, so it is imperative that our industry is fully prepared to swiftly and decisively deal with any dangerous activity that threatens the integrity of their institution, or puts their clients' money at risk."

Cyber-attacks cost large companies an average $649,000, according to a B2B International survey quoted in the release. Mid-size companies lose an average $50,000.

"These amounts can deliver a significant and potentially devastating financial blow to companies of any size," Simmons said in the release. "We believe that events like this exercise, coupled with the constant improvement process that most financial institutions have in place are working, and will help bring an end to this criminal behavior."