[ISN] CIA Overseeing 3-Day War Game on Internet

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu May 26 13:10:15 EDT 2005


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON May 26, 2005 - The CIA is conducting a secretive war game, 
dubbed "Silent Horizon," this week to practice defending against an 
electronic assault on the same scale as the Sept. 11 terrorism 

The three-day exercise, ending Thursday, was 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 alliance of anti-American organizations, including 
anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be 
inflicted in the war game's closing hours.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise a 
devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the 
economy with the same magnitude as the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide 
hijackings contravenes assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts 
that such far-reaching effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely. 
Previous government simulations have modeled damage from cyberattacks 
more narrowly. 

"You hear less and less about the digital Pearl Harbor," said Dennis 
McGrath, who helped run three similar war games 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, gathered in conference rooms and reacted 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 

More information about the ISN mailing list