Reporting from Washington – The crisis began when college basketball fans downloaded a free March Madness application to their smart phones. The app hid spyware that stole passwords, intercepted e-mails and created havoc.
Soon 60 million cellphones were dead. The Internet crashed, finance and commerce collapsed, and most of the nation’s electric grid went dark. White House aides discussed putting the Army in American cities.
That, spiced up with bombs and hurricanes, formed the doomsday scenario when 10 former White House advisors and other top officials joined forces Tuesday in a rare public cyber war game designed to highlight the potential vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure to crippling attack.
The public rarely gets a peek at government war games. If Tuesday’s no-cliche-left-behind version at times resembled a sci-fi thriller, no one doubts that the peril to telecommunications and other crucial computer-run systems is real and growing…
Michael Chertoff, who played the national security advisor in the exercise, had some relevant experience to draw on. He headed the Homeland Security Department when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
“We need to know how to deal with this,” Chertoff declared at the start of the session. “The biggest danger,” he added, “is if we’re ineffective…”
John McLaughlin, who was deputy director of the CIA during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, suggested maximizing use of intelligence assets — and perhaps nationalizing electric power companies…
In the end, no grand plan emerged, but the group did agree to advise the president to federalize the National Guard, even if governors objected, and deploy the troops — perhaps backed by the U.S. military — to guard power lines and prevent unrest.
RTFA. None of it will surprise regular geeks in attendance at Eideard. And 21st Century USA.