Cybersecurity has become a popular topic in policy circles these days, as attacks continue and experts continue to question the nation’s readiness. So what happens when the really big attack comes? Expectations of privacy, net neutrality and private-sector sovereignty could go out the window.
As a group of former senior government officials gathered to engage in a war-game simulation of the emergency response to a crippling cyber attack, serious questions emerged about the boundaries of the government’s legal authority to intervene. eSecurity Planet has the details.
WASHINGTON — In the event that a massive cyber attack on the U.S. takes out large swaths of critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications and power systems, government and military officials will be forced to make a litany of decisions that could have sweeping implications on individual privacy and private-sector control over targeted networks.
A panel of former senior officials explored that scenario Tuesday morning in a war-game simulation that imagined an emergency meeting of the National Security Council called to craft the administration’s response to a cyber attack. According to the scenario, the attack originated as a mobile app that contained self-replicating malware that initially overwhelmed wireless networks before knocking out large portions of the Internet and wireline networks and disrupting the electrical supply and threatening to disable oil and gas pipelines.
Some of the choices that an administration could be pressed to make in such an event would be deeply unpopular and profoundly troubling to certain Internet policy advocates, and many would rest on nebulous legal authority.
“We can’t ask. We’re going to have to tell,” said Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security who Tuesday play-acted in the role of national security advisor. “The bigger danger is not that we’re going to offend people, but that we’re going to be seen as ineffective.”