Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

CIA overseeing 3-day war game on Internet

Filed under
Web

The CIA is conducting a war game this week to simulate an unprecedented, Sept. 11-like electronic assault against the United States. The three-day exercise, known as "Silent Horizon," is meant to test the ability of government and industry to respond to escalating Internet disruptions over many months, according to participants.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the CIA asked them not to disclose details of the sensitive exercise taking place in Charlottesville, Va., about two hours southwest of Washington.

The simulated attacks were carried out five years in the future by a fictional new alliance of anti-American organizations that included anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be inflicted in the closing hours of the war game Thursday.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise - a devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the economy on the scale of the 2001 suicide hijackings - contradicts assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts that such effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely.

"You hear less and less about the digital Pearl Harbor," said Dennis McGrath, who has helped run three similar exercises for the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. "What people call cyberterrorism, it's just not at the top of the list."

The CIA's little-known Information Operations Center, which evaluates threats to U.S. computer systems from foreign governments, criminal organizations and hackers, was running the war game. About 75 people, mostly from the CIA, along with other current and former U.S. officials, gathered in conference rooms and pretended to react to signs of mock computer attacks.

The government remains most concerned about terrorists using explosions, radiation and biological threats. FBI Director Robert Mueller warned earlier this year that terrorists increasingly are recruiting computer scientists but said most hackers "do not have the resources or motivation to attack the U.S. critical information infrastructures."

The government's most recent intelligence assessment of future threats through the year 2020 said cyberattacks are expected but terrorists "will continue to primarily employ conventional weapons." Authorities have expressed concerns about terrorists combining physical attacks such as bombings with hacker attacks to disrupt rescue efforts, known as hybrid or "swarming" attacks.

"One of the things the intelligence community was accused of was a lack of imagination," said Dorothy Denning of the Naval Postgraduate School, an expert on Internet threats who was invited by the CIA to participate but declined. "You want to think about not just what you think may affect you but about scenarios that might seem unlikely."

An earlier cyberterrorism exercise called "Livewire" for the Homeland Security Department and other federal agencies concluded there were serious questions over government's role during a cyberattack depending on who was identified as the culprit - terrorists, a foreign government or bored teenagers.

It also questioned whether the U.S. government would be able to detect the early stages of such an attack without significant help from private technology companies.

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

today's leftovers

  • Why leading DevOps may get you a promotion
    Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project and leading DevOps proponent, seems to think so. In a recent interview with TechBeacon's Mike Perrow, Kim notes that of "the nearly 100 speakers at DevOps Enterprise Summits over the last two years, about one in three have been promoted."
  • Cloud Vendors, The Great Disruptors, Face Disruption From Blockchain
  • SWORDY, a local party brawler could come to Linux if Microsoft allow it
    SWORDY is a rather fun looking local party brawler that has just released on Steam in Early Access. It could see a Linux release too, if Microsoft allow it.
  • System Shock remake has blasted past the Linux stretch goal, officially coming to Linux
    The Linux stretch goal was $1.1 million and it's pleasing to see it hit the goal, so we won't miss out now. I am hoping they don't let anyone down, as they have shown they can do it already by providing the demo. There should be no reason to see a delay with Linux now.
  • GammaRay 2.5 release
    GammaRay 2.5 has been released, the biggest feature release yet of our Qt introspection tool. Besides support for Qt 5.7 and in particular the newly added Qt 3D module a slew of new features awaits you, such as access to QML context property chains and type information, object instance statistics, support for inspecting networking and SSL classes, and runtime switchable logging categories.
  • GammaRay 2.5 Released For Qt Introspection
    KDAB has announced the release of GammaRay 2.5, what they say is their "biggest feature release yet", the popular introspection tool for Qt developers.
  • The new Keyboard panel
    After implementing the new redesigned Shell of GNOME Control Center, it’s now time to move the panels to a bright new future. And the Keyboard panel just walked this step.
  • Debian on Seagate Personal Cloud and Seagate NAS
    The majority of NAS devices supported in Debian are based on Debian's Kirkwood platform. This platform is quite dated now and can only run Debian's armel port. Debian now supports the Seagate Personal Cloud and Seagate NAS devices. They are based on Marvell's Armada 370, a platform which can run Debian's armhf port. Unfortunately, even the Armada 370 is a bit dated now, so I would not recommend these devices for new purchases. If you have one already, however, you now have the option to run native Debian.

OSS Leftovers