Homeland department gets into the cyberwar game

The Homeland Security Department is simulating cyberattacks and biological assaults to help prepare for the possibility of the real thing, deputy secretary Gordon England said.

'A week ago, I participated in a war game with the Business Roundtable,' England told attendees at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Conference on Critical Infrastructure and Homeland Security today. The Business Roundtable is an association of corporate chief executive officers that makes policy recommendations for economic growth.

Part of the war game involved a cyberattack on financial institutions 'that sucked money out of the financial system,' England said.

Another part of the game simulated a biological warfare attack on Chicago, he said.

'The business community needs to act predictably to restore confidence' in the wake of such attacks, England said.

He endorsed the Business Roundtable's approach of periodically reviewing its members' plans for recovery from attacks and urged the Chamber of Commerce to adopt similar plans.

In response to a question about the department's approach to regulation, England said, 'I would like the Homeland Security Department to have as few regulations as possible'our job is to coordinate the work of other federal agencies.'

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) told the conference that scanty federal funding has hampered security activities in his state. While the state's federally approved homeland security plan calls for expenditures of $48 million, the federal government has provided Iowa only $12 million, Vilsack said.

'Our plan calls for expenditures of $32 million for an interoperable [radio] communications system' alone, Vilsack said. He added that the funds given to the states have been designated by Congress for particular programs, which impedes the states' ability to put security measures in place.

Vilsack said Iowa's plans for the year 2000 date rollover included ranking the importance of state agencies' functions and are proving useful in homeland security preparation and response.

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