Trains, planes, and bloggers.
WASHINGTON – It’s the government’s idea of a really bad day: Washington’s Metro trains shut down. Seaport computers in New York go dark. Bloggers reveal locations of railcars with hazardous materials. Airport control towers are disrupted in Philadelphia and Chicago. Overseas, a mysterious liquid is found on London’s subway.
And that’s just for starters.
Those incidents were among dozens of detailed, mock disasters confronting officials rapid-fire in the U.S. government’s biggest-ever “Cyber Storm” war game, according to hundreds of pages of heavily censored files obtained by The Associated Press. The Homeland Security Department ran the exercise to test the nation’s hacker defenses, with help from the State Department, Pentagon, Justice Department, CIA, National Security Agency and others.
The laundry list of fictional catastrophes — which include hundreds of people on “No Fly” lists suddenly arriving at airport ticket counters — is significant because it suggests what kind of real-world trouble keeps people in the White House awake at night.
Imagined villains include hackers, bloggers and even reporters. After mock electronic attacks overwhelmed computers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an unspecified “major news network” airing reports about the attackers refused to reveal its sources to the government. Other simulated reporters were duped into spreading “believable but misleading” information that worsened fallout by confusing the public and financial markets, according to the government’s files.
Reporters getting breaking news stories wrong is nothing new. Wasn’t the State Department bombed on 9-11? How many different versions did we hear of Actor Heath Ledger’s death? Wasn’t he surrounded by pills? If I die at home one day, I’ll be surrounded by lots of pills. Right now I’m taking up to 16 pills at a time during the day. All prescription medicines. Do the math if I have 30-day supplies of them all.
Back to bloggers and the press being a national security threat. Was the AP article a self-fufilling prophecy? For it also says-
The AP obtained the Cyber Storm internal records nearly two years after it requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. The government censored most of the 328 pages it turned over, marked “For Official Use Only,” citing rules preventing the disclosure of sensitive information.
As James Joyner at OTB points out,
Let me get this straight:
The AP is publishing cyber-security planning scenarios, thus making it easy for the enemy to know what’s not being planned for.
The major papers are routinely publishing reports on highly classified documents.
Bureaucrats and Congressmen who are losing turf battles leak state secrets all the time.
And it’s bloggers that they’re worried about?
What do you expect in a country where the presidential races or specualtion start the day after the last election ended? It’s a crazy country we live in, but I love it.
Are bloggers a threat? Charlton Heston in the movie ‘Midway‘(Jay may like me quoting this) sums things up nicely.
“They’re no more a threat to national security than your pet Airedale.”