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Cyber ShockWave cripples computers nationwide (sorta)

The Cyber ShockWave simulation tests America's response to a computer attack.

By / February 16, 2010

Cyber ShockWave will test America's preparedness.

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How will America respond to a vast cyber attack? An all-star team of security agents and lawmakers will provide a key glimpse today.

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Former government officials gathered Tuesday in Washington to participate in Cyber ShockWave.

The event, sponsored the Bipartisan Policy Center, is a kind of high-level role playing game. As reports of the fake attack roll in, Washington veterans will imagine themselves as certain cabinet positions and collective advise the president on how to act.

Players include recent Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff as the faux National Security Advisor, former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte as Secretary of State, and retired Sen. J. Bennett Johnston as secretary of energy. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington will play host to their White House situation room.

"The participants, whose mission is to advise the president and mount a response to the attack, will not know the scenario in advance," wrote the Bipartisan Policy Center in announcing Cyber ShockWave. "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."

And after the event, everyone will face the press and experts to defend their action. CNN filmed the exercise and will air a report on it next weekend.

Such role playing is common among the military and analyst groups – the Obama Administration has run through at least three similar cyber wargames this year – but the outcomes are rarely public.

Today's simulation follows the mold of Oil ShockWave, the group's 2007 simulation of an oil crisis, and was created by former CIA Director Michael Hayden and members of the 9-11 commission, with help from Georgetown University and PayPal.

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Do you think America is ready to fend off a massive computer attack? Who would be on your cyber dream team? Let us know in the comments, and follow us on Twitter for more sci-news.

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