Simulated Cyberattack on U.S., Feb. 16

By February 10, 2010

We have earthquake simulations in San Francisco, but I’ve never heard of a simulated cyberattack. They happen, just aren’t advertised. Except for this one. Next week, February 16, there will be a public, simulated cyberattack on America. Dubbed ‘Cyber Shockwave,’ the attack, coordinated by the Bipartisan Committee, “will provide an unprecedented look at how the government would develop a real-time response to a large-scale cyber crisis affecting much of the nation.” It will take place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C., where the White House Sit Room will be recreated. Cyber ShockWave was created created by former CIA Director General Michael Hayden and the co-chairs of the 9-11 commission, Thomas Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton.

The event “will highlight the immediate, real dangers of cyber-terrorism by bringing together a bipartisan group of former senior administration and national security officials playing the roles of Cabinet members,” according to the Bipartisan Committee.

“The participants, whose mission is to advise the president and mount a response to the attack, will not know the scenario in advance," according to the Bipartisan Committee. "They will react to the threat in real time, as intelligence and news reports drive the simulation, shedding light on how the difficult split-second decisions must be made to respond to an unfolding and often unseen threat.”

Generally, events like this are kept private, but this simulation will be broadcast by CNN after the event, according to the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder.

“The sponsors of the event include companies with financial stakes in the future of cyber defense -- General Dynamics is one -- but also companies whose transactions are the lifeblood to the American economy [like PayPal], and who want to foster a greater sense of urgency among the public and policymakers,” Ambinder writes.

It’s a good idea to bring the public into the conversation about cyberattacks, especially since it’s possible for us to be implicated in them without our own knowledge. A public viewing of an attack simulation could bring home the reality that news of attacks – which always remain at some level abstract – ever could.

And who knows, maybe it will be like 24.

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