September 15, 2006

DHS reports on anarchist cyberterror drill

Sep 13
The Department of Homeland Security Wednesday released the results of its first exercise simulating a major cyber-terror attack on the United States.

The exercise, staged in February and dubbed "Cyber Storm," simulated an attack by a loose coalition of well-financed anti-globalization and anarchist "hacktivists" from many different countries, says the department's report.

The attackers "aimed to make political statements and protest actions by government and industry" by penetrating "trusted cyber systems" like public health and driver licensing databases.

"The attackers focused on maximizing economic harm and fomenting general distrust of big business and government by disrupting services and misleading news media and other information outlets," says the report, adding that the scenario "was neither a forecast of any particular threats ... currently existing nor an expression of any specific concerns."

Rather, it was designed "to test communications, policies and procedures in response to various (kinds of) cyber attacks and to identify where further planning and process improvements are needed," the department said in a statement.

Over 110 state local and federal government agencies and private corporations took part in the exercise, staged at the headquarters of the U.S. Secret Service on a specially established computer network to avoid impacting the real Internet.

The biggest weakness the exercise revealed was the limited ability of participants to correlate "multiple incidents across multiple infrastructures and between the public and private sectors," says the report.

While the response was "generally effective" in addressing single attacks, and "to some extent" multiple ones, "most incidents were treated as individual and discrete events. Players were challenged when attempting to develop an integrated situational awareness picture and cohesive impact assessment across sectors and attack vectors."


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