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­.s. Networks and Power Grid ­nder (mock) Cyber-Attack


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Under attack

James Schnepf / Getty

Unknown hackers have taken out U.S. cellphone networks in an ongoing cyber-attack that will soon knock out parts of the nation's electricity grid – say the officials who helped plan today's mock assault on the nation's defences.

The 3-hour event began at 10 am EST (3 pm GMT) and will quickly escalate from cellphone networks to attack the US power supply by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in smart grid technologies, says Matthew Stern, head of cyber accounts for defence contractor General Dynamics.

"The attack will look like organised crime initially, but will get to the point where the Department of Defense will get involved and have to decide if and how to retaliate," Stern, former head of the US army's protected networks, told New Scientist prior to the event.

Today's event, known as Cyber Shockwave and organised by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington DC-based think tank, aims to give the public an unprecedented and realistic look at how government officials might react to a cyber-attack on the nation.

The organisation has gathered former White House and national security officials with no prior knowledge of the nature of today's attack in a mock "situation room" in a Washington hotel.

There, they are receiving fictitious intelligence briefings and watching fake news reports of the attack's effects across the country. They are being asked to respond in real time with suggestions of what the government should do. Journalists are watching and recording the event, which will be televised by CNN on 20 and 21 February.

From New Scientist
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