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

Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.12 Snaps Creator with New Parts Ecosystem, More

Today, June 29, 2016, Canonical has had the great pleasure of announcing the release of the highly anticipated Snapcraft 2.12 Snappy creator tool for the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Read more

AMDGPU-PRO Driver 16.30 Officially Released with Support for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Today, June 29, 2016, AMD released the final version of the AMDGPU-Pro 16.30 graphics driver for GNU/Linux operating systems, bringing support for new technologies like the Vulkan API. Read more

Red Hat News

Peppermint 7 Released

Peppermint 7 launched a few days ago. Peppermint is a lightweight Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with an emphasis on speed and simplicity. Although the name is similar to Linux Mint, the projects aren't directly related. Peppermint originally was envisioned as a "spicier" alternative to Mint—whatever that means! Many distros come with a wide assortment of feature-rich applications, and that's great for power users who need those apps. But older machines can struggle to cope with those demanding distros. Peppermint solves the problem by offering a carefully curated suite of web apps that perform tasks traditionally handled by native apps. It's an approach that will be familiar to any Chromebook users reading this article. Read more