Seattle cybergame preceded last week's drill and simulated reality

State, local and federal officials ran a simulated cyberattack on Seattle-area government systems on May 6 and 7 as a warmup for last week's Topoff2 exercise.

The cyberdrill tested the ability of government groups in the Seattle and King County, Wash., area to respond to escalating cyberattacks.

The primary lesson learned was that the players mitigated attacks most effectively when they cooperated across federal, state and local levels, said Andy Cutts, technical program coordinator for the Institute for Security Technology Studies. The Dartmouth College institute designed the simulation program for the exercise.

About 150 officials gathered at Camp Murray, Wash., to carry out the exercise, said Nancy Jackson, spokeswoman for the state's Information Services Department. Camp Murray is the home of the state's National Guard and Air National Guard, as well as its Emergency Management Division.

'The simulation required a technical response to attacks, which then triggered decision points that required management to get involved in terms of the kinds of business impacts they had and what it would take to recover and return to normal,' Jackson said.

The Dartmouth institute created a Unix application called Netsim that participants accessed from 23 notebook PCs on a wireless LAN. Netsim simulated communications among the players via e-mail, telephone and radio.

'We created a topology for the participants that was simulated but pretty close to reality,' Cutts said.

'We could simulate different levels of load, distributed denial-of-service attacks and virus attacks'the kinds of things you see in the wild,' he said. 'We did Web site defacing and hijacking. We did an attack designed to breach security. And we did normal day-to-day operational problems, such as a landscape guy with a backhoe' cutting a network connection.

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