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OPERATION DARK SCREEN LOOKS TO SHED LIGHT ON CYBERTERROR

Source: Security Wire Digest

Posted on July 18, 2002

      Organizers of a simulated cyberattack planned for San Antonio, Texas hope the drill yields a blueprint for how cities should respond to terrorist attacks on critical IT infrastructure.

      Operation Dark Screen will bring together representatives of utilities and other key private industries, the U.S. military as well as local, state and federal agencies.

      Dr. Gregory White, technical director for the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) at the University of Texas, says the drill will unfold in three phases.

      At a "table top" exercise planned for September, representatives of power plants, water departments, emergency departments and Air Force bases around San Antonio will walk through their responses to a cyberattack.

      After that exercise is reviewed, a detailed report will be released. Finally, a "full-blown drill" is planned for next May. Planners and cybersecurity experts are working to determine what scenarios to act out during the drill.

      "We want the attack to occur on as many areas as possible while still being plausible," says White. "We'll think, if someone wanted to disable this area, what would they do? And we'll start plopping events on the table."

      U.S. Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez (D-Texas) proposed Operation Dark Screen earlier this year after hearing about a biological warfare exercise called Operation Dark Winter.

      Rodriguez says San Antonio's host of research and education institutions--and its proximity to the Mexican border and much of the U.S. oil industry--make it vulnerable to "all types of terrorist attacks."

      What the test reveals should be applicable elsewhere, he adds. For instance: How will agencies communicate with one another if major telecom systems are disabled?




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