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9/27/2010
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DHS Launches Cyber Attack Exercise

Cyber Storm III, the largest simulated cyber attack to date, aims to test a new national cyber response plan and stretch the limits of collaborative cybersecurity.

Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
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However, the scenario won't use a virtual network. Instead, the exercise will be controlled from the Secret Service headquarters, where organizers from various agencies will be sending out "exercise injects," information that a player will receive that indicates that a certain event has taken place as part of the narrative set up by the organizers. This goes a bit beyond a paper narrative, including fake log data, drives that may contain fake malware, and fake event history, and is dynamic, meaning that it can change dependent on the actions the players take.

This year's scenario reflects the fact that threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated with potential for widespread damage. "We really wanted to come up with something that's a core scenario, foundational to the Internet, affecting not necessarily just uptime but also integrity," Lambo said. "We’re trying to upset the chain of trust. We're basically using the Internet against itself." Lambo requested media not publish deeper details of the scenario ahead of time as to maintain an element of suspense for the players.

Lambo said he hopes the exercise pushes the response to the point where things go wrong with the response process. "The point of an exercise like this is to lay yourself bare a little bit and get to the point where you break certain things," he said. "We want to make sure not how well we're doing everything, but, is the way we're contemplating doing it right-headed, and are we on track both philosophically and organizationally."

Cyber Storm III has several key objectives, foremost of which is to test the National Cyber Incident Response Plan. Other objectives include focusing on coordination and information sharing, examining the DHS' role in a global event, applying findings of past Cyber Storm exercises, and determining how best to incorporate the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center into operational responses.

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