U.S. not ready for cyber attack

Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:03am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is unprepared for a major hostile attack against vital computer networks, government and industry officials said on Thursday after participating in a two-day "cyberwar" simulation.

The game involved 230 representatives of government defense and security agencies, private companies and civil groups. It revealed flaws in leadership, planning, communications and other issues, participants said.

The exercise comes almost a year after President George W. Bush launched a cybersecurity initiative which officials said has helped shore up U.S. computer defenses but still falls short.

"There isn't a response or a game plan," said senior vice president Mark Gerencser of the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting service, which ran the simulation. "There isn't really anybody in charge," he told reporters afterward.

Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island, who chairs the homeland security subcommittee on cybersecurity, said: "We're way behind where we need to be now."

Dire consequences of a successful attack could include failure of banking or national electrical systems, he said.

"This is equivalent in my mind to before September 11 ... we were awakened to the threat on the morning after September 11."

Officials cited attacks by Russia sympathizers on Estonia and Georgia as examples of modern cyberwarfare, and said U.S. businesses and government offices have faced intrusions and attacks.   Continued...

 
<p>Switzerland's team (R-L) Dimitri Kurt, Christian Kessler, Thomas Weber, and Martin Blaettler compete in the 'Counter-Strike' video game, at the World Cyber Games (WCG) 2004 in San Francisco, October 8, 2004. REUTERS/Kimberly White</p>