US, UK and friends have cyber-war party

US, UK and friends have cyber-war party
US, UK and friends have cyber-war party

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By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
The Register
10th March 2008

Business and government leaders from the US, UK and three other 
countries will spend much of this week simulating and defending against 
a large-scale cyber attack in an exercise designed to strengthen 
coordinated responses to what many perceive as a growing threat.

Participants of Cyber Storm II, which also include about 40 
private-sector companies, will enact a scenario in which "persistent, 
fictitious adversaries" launch an extended attack using websites, email, 
phones, faxes and other communications systems. Other countries involved 
are Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Cyber Storm II comes two weeks after the Pentagon released an assessment 
of China's military might, warning the People's Liberation Army was 
intent on expanding its capabilities for cyber warfare. It also comes 
amid intelligence reports that utilities in several countries have 
sustained cyber attacks that caused power outages.

This week's exercises are a follow up to Cyber Storm I, which was 
completed two years ago. They are mandated by an act of Congress that 
requires the public and private sectors to strengthen cyber 

Companies including Cisco, Juniper Networks, Dow Chemical, Air Products 
& Chemical and Wachovia are participating. Nine US states and at least 
18 federal agencies are also involved. They represent the chemical, 
information technology, communications and transportation industries, 
which are considered ctritical parts of the infrastructure. The US 
Department of Homeland Security is hosting the event - no doubt with 
danishes and plenty of Starbucks coffee.

The exercises are designed to sharpen and assess participants' ability 
to respond to a multi-day, coordinated attack and better understand the 
"cascading effects" such attacks can have.

Results of Cyber Storm I pointed the the need for better coordination 
between various agencies and for a common framework for communicating 
among different parties.

While it's not necessarily a bad idea to simulate imagined threats, 
there's no indication that participants will delve into actual practices 
that are known to put national security at risk. For example, last week 
came word that a private website operator regularly received official 
Air Force communications containing sensitive information because his 
email address was similar to those of military leaders. Additionally, a 
Pentagon official has now confirmed that an attack last year on a 
network belonging to the Department of Defense involved a Windows 
vulnerability and allowed the intruders to steal "an amazing amount" of 

As these episodes make clear, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, 
no simulation necessary. =C2=AE

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