Cyber Storm takes a back seat to real storms

The Homeland Security Department's Cyber Storm exercise, which stages a virtual attack on the nation, has been pushed back from November to February 2006 because of resource demands and infrastructure damage caused by the recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region, the department and other sources said.

'It makes sense to work on real-time occurrences such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita [before carrying out the exercises],' said DHS spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich.

'It would be fair to say that the storms required a reallocation of resources, [but] all efforts to move forward with Cyber Storm are continuing,' Petrovich added.

Terry Benzel, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California whose DETER Internet test bed project is scheduled to play a key role in Cyber Storm, said the electric utility industry had requested the delay so that the companies could repair their shredded networks.

Cyber Storm is designed to combine a virtual attack on the financial sector with a virtual assault on the power grid, as well as a simulated array of attacks on physical assets.

Acting Cybersecurity Division director Andy Purdy has described Cyber Storm as an interagency project that would involve participation by various critical infrastructure owners in the private sector.

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