Simulated terrorist cyberattack exposes problems

Wednesday, 26 November 2003, 11:40 AM EST

The Homeland Security Department's first simulation of a terrorist attack on computer, banking, and utility systems exposed problems with the ways victimized industries communicated vital information during the crisis, the government's new cybersecurity chief said Monday.

Experts inside government and the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College are still formally evaluating results of the so-called "Livewire" exercise, carried out over five days late in October. It simulated physical and computer attacks on banks, power companies, and the oil and gas industry, among others.

"There were some gaps," said Amit Yoran, the newly hired chief of the agency's National Cyber-Security Division. "The information flow between various sectors was not as smooth as we would perhaps have liked." He assessed government's performance as "certainly a B+, better than my personal expectations."

Yoran said mock attacks during the exercise tried to broadly disrupt services and communications across major industrial sectors, enough to make consumers lose economic confidence. It modeled bombings at communications facilities outside Washington and cyberattacks aimed at companies and other networks.

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