• United States



by Dave Gradijan

U.S. Government Readying Massive Cybersecurity Test

Feb 12, 20072 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning a large-scale test, to be held in early 2008, of the nation’s response to a cyberattack.

The test will be a follow-up to the February 2006 Cyber Storm test, which was billed as the largest-ever U.S. government online attack simulation.

Cyber Storm 2 will be conducted in March 2008, said Gregory Garcia, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications with DHS, speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco last week. Like the first Cyber Storm, this exercise will evaluate the ability of the public and private sector to provide a coordinated response to a large-scale cyber event, he said.

The second Cyber Storm test, which is in the planning stages right now, will include a greater number of participants than its predecessor, said Tiffany Jones, senior regional manager for government relations with Symantec. In particular, the number of international participants will be increased, she said.

Symantec was one of about 30 corporations that participated in the first exercise, and will also be involved in Cyber Storm 2, she said.

The first Cyber Storm drew 115 organizations from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Participants included Microsoft, Verisign, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. National Security Agency.

Next year’s test is expected to bring in corporate players from outside of the IT industry that were not involved in the first exercise—transportation and chemical companies for example, Jones said.

She said the DHS plans to host additional Cyber Storm events beyond 2008 on a biannual basis.

Security experts say that Cyber Storm has improved participants’ understanding of whom to call in the event of an attack, but hasn’t necessarily identified specific vulnerabilities in the nation’s computer systems. “What they’re trying to do is highlighting the inefficiencies in the process,” said Marcus Sachs, deputy director with research group SRI International’s Computer Science Laboratory. “They’re not really looking for technical solutions.”

-Robert McMillan, IDG News Service