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2010-02-26
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Mock Cyber Attack Exercise

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Tagged As: Hacking, Politics, and Security

A Washington DC area non-profit organization known as the Bipartisan Policy Center recently hosted an exercise called Cyber ShockWave. Developed by Michael Hayden (former director of the NSA and CIA), it intended to allow participants to experience a simulated, nation-wide cyber attack to role-play how the US might respond. Notable folks such as Michael Chertoff, John Negroponte, Fran Townsend and Joe Lockhart participated, indicative that the role players were experienced in the positions and not amateur think-tank employees speculating. As was likely predicted whenever political talking heads put their minds together, the US failed. In a nutshell, the attack began with malware on the cellular network through widespread phishing followed by the loss of some pipelines and eventually the east coast power grid. While the exercise showed a failure of America's public capabilities, it was successful in opening eyes regarding how an adherence to existing authorities, jurisdictions and policies were the equivalent of American stepping all over its poncho while running at full speed, a glorious Washington DC faceplant. Amongst the questions raised were:

  • whether private communications companies would even comply with government requests to use their infrastructure in defensive and offensive ways
  • how particular response actions against point targets would be construed politically, i.e. as an assault on the nation state [Russia] or a defense against a specific threat
  • distinction of authorities between physical and cyber emergency states and its effect on control over elements like the National Guard


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