Feds take 'cyber Pearl Harbor' seriously

Federal officials prepare on several fronts for coordinated cyber and physical attacks

Federal agencies are bracing for a cyberattack of historic proportions — what some observers call a cyber Pearl Harbor. Although the government said it does not know of any threats of such an attack, officials say a recent denial-of-service attack by Russian nationalists against Estonia’s government is a wake-up call.“If Estonia is vulnerable, are we?” asked Michael Castagna, the Commerce Department’s chief information security officer. “Estonia was able to weather the huge attack, but could the United States or the world afford to be cut off from the Web? This is a good example of why we need a culture of security.” Bush administration officials have been preparing in a variety of ways to harden the government’s cyberdefenses against a massive cyberattack, which could disable large portions of the Internet on which government operations depend. One recent step was an Office of Management and Budget memo requiring agencies to use standard Microsoft Windows desktop and laptop PC configurations. That policy will make it easier for federal agencies to automatically apply software security patches. Other recent administration actions include issuing a memo that asks agencies to protect personal information on government computers by requiring two-factor authentication for access to those computers. With those and other measures, the federal government will improve IT security, experts say.White House officials also are working on a Homeland Security Presidential Directive that would provide guidelines for agencies to respond to a cyberattack. Sources confirmed that administration officials, the National Security Council and others have discussed the new directive. “Just what is the order of battle and rules of engagement?” asked a former federal official with knowledge of the directive. “Do we get congressional resolution or public debate? Will launching a counter-counterattack mean I’m violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? The most defenseless common Joe will take the brunt of any counterattack.”White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said in an e-mail message that the administration has made no announcements about a new directive.  In an unusual action, the CIO Council met May 16 at a secure location in Washington to discuss cybersecurity and nation-state attacks, two federal information technology leaders said. One of them, Ed Meagher, the Interior Department’s deputy chief information officer, would not offer any details because the information was classified, but he said the meeting was about IT security.Classified briefings for CIOs are extremely rare, said Glenn Schlarman, former chief of OMB’s Information Policy and Technology Branch, referring to the classified meeting of the CIO Council. An OMB spokeswoman said “the briefing was intended to ensure all CIOs are aware of the current state of play in the cyberworld and that they are working to take proper steps to secure their government assets accordingly.”Government sources said the meeting was not called in response to the Estonia attack, but they said it was addressed at the meeting.The Estonia attack highlights how cyberattacks are becoming another factor in international politics, Meagher said. “The FBI believes that the next terrorist attack will coincide with a cyberattack,” he said.























DHS offers Internet traffic analysis to EstoniaWhen Russian nationalists upset about Estonia’s decision to move a World War II monument launched a massive denial-of-service attack on the country’s critical infrastructure network, several countries provided technical assistance.

The United States’ Homeland Security Department analyzed traffic to figure out if the attack could be tied to Russia’s government, said Johannes Ullrich, the chief technology officer at the SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center.

“DHS has not found anything that ties the attack back to the Russian government, but the source of the attack was in Russia,” Ullrich said.

After the cyberattack, Estonia decided to allow access to its network by non-Estonia Internet traffic only through a mirrored site. Visitors now see Estonian information through servers run by Akamai Technologies, Ullrich said.

— Jason Miller

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.