Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

2/17/2010
06:48 PM
50%
50%

U.S. Fails Test In Simulated Cyberattack

Organizers, observers of 'Cyber Shockwave' conclude nation is not ready for the real thing

A large-scale simulated cyberattack on the U.S. yesterday proved one thing, according to organizers: The country isn't prepared for a real attack.

In a press release issued today, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) -- which organized "Cyber Shockwave" using a group of former government officials and computer simulations -- concluded the U.S is "unprepared for cyber threats."

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who chaired the simulated National Security Council, says cyberterrorism "ought to be treated as a threat of sufficient seriousness that we give it the priority attention we've given weapons of mass destruction." Cyberterrorism is "more complicated by the fact that it involves every individual," Chertoff says. "Anybody who has a smartphone, who downloads an app, or gets on their PC is engaged in this process."

Reports from those who witnessed the simulation indicate that the U.S. defenders had difficulty identifying the source of the simulated attack, which in turn made it difficult to take action.

"During the exercise, a server hosting the attack appeared to be based in Russia," said one report. "However, the developer of the malware program was actually in the Sudan. Ultimately, the source of the attack remained unclear during the event."

The simulation envisioned an attack that unfolds during a single day in July 2011. When the council convenes to face this crisis, 20 million of the nation's smartphones have already stopped working. The attack -- the result of a malware program that had been planted in phones months earlier through a popular "March Madness" basketball bracket application -- disrupts mobile service for millions. The attack escalates, shutting down an electronic energy trading platform and crippling the power grid on the Eastern seaboard.

"A useful aspect of something like this simulation is it helps people visualize what is realistic and possible in some circumstances," says John McLaughlin, who played the role of director of national intelligence. "The smart thing is to prepare now, to do the legislation now, to do the bipartisan work now, to do the intelligence work now, the foreign policy work. These are all very complicated things, and we need to get started on them."

Stephen Friedman, who played the role of secretary of the Treasury, says of a potential cyberattack on the U.S.: "There is no question in my mind that this is a predictable surprise, and we need to get our acts together."

The panel of government officials agreed that cyberterrorism is a national security issue that needs to be addressed quickly and in a bipartisan manner. "It raises an issue of the system's responsibility to be able to come together in a nonpartisan way and figure out the answer to questions as opposed to kicking the can down the road until we're in an emergency," Chertoff says.

The exercise also raised legal questions regarding personal privacy versus national security. "We have to come to grips with the implications for our personal privacy and the relationship between the federal government and the private sector," says Jamie Gorelick, who played the role of attorney general.

"Cyber ShockWave demonstrated the tremendous challenges the government has in dealing with potential cyberattacks," says Jason Grumet, founder and president of the BPC. "Our goal for Cyber Shockwave was to identify real policy and preparedness issues that need to be addressed in order to combat an attack of this magnitude that escalates rapidly and is of unknown origin."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-22677
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
An integer overflow exists in the APIs of the host MCU while trying to connect to a WIFI network may lead to issues such as a denial-of-service condition or code execution on the SimpleLink Wi-Fi (MSP432E4 SDK: v4.20.00.12 and prior, CC32XX SDK v4.30.00.06 and prior, CC13X0 SDK versions prior to v4....
CVE-2021-29495
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
Nim is a statically typed compiled systems programming language. In Nim standard library before 1.4.2, httpClient SSL/TLS certificate verification was disabled by default. Users can upgrade to version 1.4.2 to receive a patch or, as a workaround, set "verifyMode = CVerifyPeer" as documente...
CVE-2020-4901
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
IBM Robotic Process Automation with Automation Anywhere 11.0 could allow an attacker on the network to obtain sensitive information or cause a denial of service through username enumeration. IBM X-Force ID: 190992.
CVE-2021-21419
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
Eventlet is a concurrent networking library for Python. A websocket peer may exhaust memory on Eventlet side by sending very large websocket frames. Malicious peer may exhaust memory on Eventlet side by sending highly compressed data frame. A patch in version 0.31.0 restricts websocket frame to reas...
CVE-2021-27437
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-07
The affected product allows attackers to obtain sensitive information from the WISE-PaaS dashboard. The system contains a hard-coded administrator username and password that can be used to query Grafana APIs. Authentication is not required for exploitation on the WISE-PaaS/RMM (versions prior to 9.0...