Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2010 Vol. 57 No. 3


James Kelley James Kelley, TDEM’s State Exercise Officer. Photo by Rachel Jordan-Shuss.

In today’s world, computers and the Internet have become essential for a wide variety of private and public sector systems. That means there is a potential for an orchestrated attack on a wide variety of systems that depend on electronic and wireless communication – including yours.

Texas recently joined 10 other states, 12 other nations and 60 private sector partners as a participant in an exercise called Cyber Storm III. Cyber Storm III was designed to simulate a large-scale computer and Internet-based attack on key industries and government services, including utilities, banks, communications, transportation and other critical infrastructure throughout the United States.

TDEM and the State Operations Center were part of the Texas Exercise Planning team, and supported coordination and control activities involving 11 other state agencies. The exercise was an opportunity to test draft plans for cyber security in Texas.

James Kelley, State Exercise Officer in the TDEM Preparedness Section, said the message for local jurisdictions is: “Cybersecurity is paramount in today’s electronic age. Cybersecurity deserves its own plan and procedures because it is different and requires a different approach.”

Texas’ 200 participants joined thousands of people in government and industry in the three-day exercise. They considered a variety of harrowing scenarios involving disruption of critical electronic infrastructure. The aim was to cause chaos and panic in the general public. Kelley said the danger is that, in effect, a large number of computers essential to daily life and safety could simply be “held hostage and/or turned into large paperweights because of well placed malware designed to destroy them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated that the goal of the exercise was to examine and strengthen national preparedness and response capabilities in the event of a cyber attack. Representatives of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Justice, Transportation and the Treasury also participated. DHS spokesmen said this was the first major exercise testing a new agency called the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).

For more information, see:

Cyberstorm III

TDEM Preparedness Exercises

National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center

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