There is a reason that the military conducts repeated simulated training exercises: To ensure that the armed forces will be able to respond to military attacks immediately and effectively. Little wonder then that governments around the world have been doing the same when it comes to a nation’s cyber security. Interestingly, that while the threat of a physical invasion of any western country decreases each year, the threat of cyber-attacks, increases dramatically. A cyber-attack has the potential to decimate many countries’ vital systems including transport, infrastructure (power, water, banking, and healthcare) and ‘cyber war games’ help governments plan against attacks, increase security and lower the chance of complete decimation.
The Cyber Storm – 2006 War Games Begin
One of the earliest tactical training exercises and simulated ‘war games’ was called ‘Cyber Storm’ which took place over the course of a week in February 2006. It was the first ever cyber security exercise to take place and enabled the Department of Homeland Security to prepare for future attacks by highlighting vulnerabilities and weaknesses not only in electronic systems, but in their response to an attack.
Cyber Storm – Attacks on All Fronts
One of the principal objectives was to ascertain the preparedness and response times of different systems and departments to an attack on all fronts. The simulation sought to disrupt key targets, and thwart the government’s ability to respond. Unfortunately it was successful.
The controlled and simulated attack was leveraged against key targets around the world including Washington DC’s metro transport system, hazardous materials in Philadelphia, Chicago and on London’s Underground. People on ‘no-fly’ lists appearing at several airports across the US, utility disruption in Los Angeles and planes flying too close to strategic targets.
The outcome of the exercise highlighted the inability of systems and departments to connect attacks fast enough and not being able to focus on the entirety of the attack, but rather on specific incidences. Overall it was found that, if under cyber-attack, the US may not be able to adequately defend itself fast enough.