Saturday, November 6, 2010
Europe Tests Cyberwar Defenses in Simulation Exercise
European member states have tested their responsiveness to a cyberattack in a large-scale exercise that simulated attempts by hackers to paralyze critical online services. The aim of the test was to enhance understanding of how cyber-incidents are handled and test communication links and procedures in case of a real large-scale cyber incident.
European Union member states on Thursday ran their first-ever simulation of an EU-wide cyber war as a step toward setting up worldwide exercises, officials in Brussels said.
The defense of Internet systems shot up the international agenda in 2007, after pro-Russian hackers launched a large-scale attack on Estonian servers. Since then, governments around the world have invested hugely in setting up ever-tougher web defense systems.
In Thursday's exercise, codenamed "Cyber Europe 2010 ", experts from all 27 EU states plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland faced "simulated attempts by hackers to paralyze critical online services in several EU member states," a statement released in Brussels read.
"Today's exercise is due to be followed by more complex scenarios ultimately going from European to global level," the statement read.
The exercise simulated a creeping attack on national Internet systems, with critical Web sites in each country gradually falling offline. Under such circumstances, each national defense system would have to cooperate with all the others to find ways of first bypassing, and then neutralizing, the attack.
The aim of the test was to "enhance member states' understanding of how cyber incidents are handled and test communication links and procedures in case of a real large-scale cyber incident."
The question of international cooperation on cyber-defense is occupying both the EU and NATO at present. The United States is pushing for NATO members to increase cyber-defense coordination.
Twenty-one of NATO's states are also EU members. European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said that Thursday's exercise had not been coordinated with the alliance, but stressed that future exercises could be more complex, with possible NATO involvement.