Australia set to play in Cyber Storm 2

Simulated attacks on critical infrastructure planned

Australia has been invited to participate in round two of a global critical infrastructure exercise organized by the US Department of Homeland Security.

The simulated cyber attacks, dubbed Cyber Storm 2, will be held in 2008 and follows a tabletop security exercise held in February last year.

A number of Australian agencies participated in Cyber Storm 1 including the Department of Defence, Australian Federal Police, AusCERT and the Attorney General's critical infrastructure protection branch.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General cofirmed all of these organizations have been invited back for round two.

In the first Cyber Storm exercise, 115 organizations from the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand participated in the event which evaluated how energy, IT, communications and transportation infrastructure responded to simulated cyber attacks.

Following the exercise a Cyber Storm Exercise Report was released which identified eight specific areas in need of improvement.

This included better inter-agency coordination, the formation of a training and exercise program, increased coordination between those involved in cyber incidents, the development of a common framework for response and information access, as well as the development of a strategic communications and public relations plan.

Security experts say Cyber Storm has improved participants' understanding of who to call in the event of an attack, but hasn't necessarily identified specific vulnerabilities in the nation's computer systems.

"What they're trying to do is highlight the inefficiencies in the process," according to Marcus Sachs, deputy director with research group SRI International's Computer Science Laboratory. "They're not really looking for technical solutions."

Cyber Storm 2 is expected to build on the last year's 30 participants to include players from chemical and transportation sectors.

It is expected last year's participants Microsoft, Verisign and Symantec will also attend the event.

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to host further Cyber Storm events beyond 2008 on a biannual basis.

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