Cyber attack war games are being planned by the United States and the United Kingdom. The first of the exercised will involve a staged cyber hacking of the financial sector and will be conducted later this year. The “unprecedented” cyber attack war games plan was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron before he held a joint press conference with President Barack Obama on Friday afternoon.
Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama discussed the dire impact of cyber attacks and counter-terrorism issues during the press conference. Cameron had also previously said that there should be “no means of communication” which “we cannot read” when discussing cyber attack thwarting efforts. He was expected to discuss “getting” companies such as Facebook and Google to permit the government to view encrypted messages by users.
Cyber hacking could prove just as detrimental to the power grid as weather emergencies, an EMP attack by a rogue nation, or solar flares. On February 11, 2014, cyber hackers exploited the weaknesses of the Network Time Protocol system crafted to sync computer and laptops clocks. The cyber terrorists were able to send a “massive amount of data” to servers which could introduce “malicious attacks” on online networks. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince said on Twitter, “Someone’s got a big, new cannon and the attack is the start of ugly things to come.”
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated during a press club conference that a cyber attack on the grid system was a matter of “when,” not “if.” A cyber-attack is not the only threat facing the nation’s electrical grid. Napolitano spoke at length about the need to prepare for a downed power grid caused by cyber hackers.
The outgoing DHS secretary uttered this warning when speaking in front of the National Press Club.
“Our country will, at some point, face a major cyber event that will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy and the everyday functioning of our society. While we have built systems, protections and a framework to identify attacks and intrusions, share information with the private sector and across government, and develop plans and capabilities to mitigate the damage, more must be done, and quickly. After the storm passed [Hurricane Sandy] FEMA sent teams into impacted areas to set up Disaster Registration Centers and conduct damage assessments. For the first time, we activated the DHS Surge Capacity Force, an all-volunteer corps that we created in 2011 to leverage the shared talents and experience and capabilities of employees from across the department.”
Napolitano acknowledged that terrorist threats against the United States have not subsided, but claimed the federal government and intelligence agencies have become more “flexible” and “nimble” at dealing with such dangers. Despite concerns about cyber attacks causing an economic collapse or the taking down the power grid, many Americans remain concerned about an invasion of privacy which could be caused if websites begin allowing the government to snoop around online activity.
What do you think about the cyber attack war games and the impact a cyber hack could cause on life as we know it in America?
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