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All quiet on the Silent Horizon

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The CIA is running a cyber wargame this week designed to test how effective authorities would be in withstanding an orchestrated hacking attack. The three-day exercise - called Silent Horizon - is based on an imagined attack on US systems by a fictional coalition of anti-globalisation protestors set five years in the future.

AP reports that the exercise was run by the CIA's Information Operations Centre, the agency division charged with evaluating foreign threats to critical infrastructure systems in the US, in a military facility in Charlottesville, Virginia. The game involved about 75 government and private sector participants.

"These are people who could likely be affected or enlisted in a real situation," an unnamed intelligence official told Reuters. "Its goal is to help the United States recognize indicators of a large-scale cyberattack."

Previous cyberwar exercises have demonstrated that electronic systems are fairly robust in withstanding attack, contrary to the overblown fears of an electronic Pearl Harbour that circulate from time to time. A bigger concern is that terrorists might combine physical attacks, such as bombings, with electronic attacks designed to hamper rescue efforts. ®

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