WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is unprepared for a major hostile attack against vital computer networks, government and industry officials said on Thursday after participating in a two-day "cyberwar" simulation. The game involved 230 representatives of government defense and security agencies, private companies and civil groups. It revealed flaws in leadership, planning, communications and other issues, participants said. The exercise comes almost a year after President George W. Bush launched a cybersecurity initiative which officials said has helped shore up U.S. computer defenses but still falls short. "There isn't a response or a game plan," said senior vice president Mark Gerencser of the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting service, which ran the simulation. "There isn't really anybody in charge," he told reporters afterward. Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island, who chairs the homeland security subcommittee on cybersecurity, said: "We're way behind where we need to be now." Dire consequences of a successful attack could include failure of banking or national electrical systems, he said."This is equivalent in my mind to before September 11 ... we were awakened to the threat on the morning after September 11."
"The ability to understand the secret communications of our foreign adversaries while protecting our own communications -- a capability in which the United States leads the world -- gives our nation a unique advantage."
Executive Order 12333, dated 4 December 1981, describes the responsibility of the National Security Agency and the Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) in more detail. The resources of NSA/CSS are organized for the accomplishment of two national missions:
- The Information Assurance mission provides the solutions, products, and services, and conducts defensive information operations, to achieve information assurance for information infrastructures critical to U.S. national security interests.
- The foreign signals intelligence or SIGINT mission allows for an effective, unified organization and control of all the foreign signals collection and processing activities of the United States. NSA is authorized to produce SIGINT in accordance with objectives, requirements, and priorities established by the Director of National Intelligence in consultation with the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.