Earlier this month, the Bipartisan Policy Center held a mock cyber war game in which the US came under cyber attack. By the end of the exercise, the power grid was down in much of the East Coast, telecommunications were severely disrupted and the Internet was virtually useless. The war game demonstrated some of the severe difficulties and challenges that would arise in the event of a cyber attack and helped to underscore that the US is not currently prepared to handle such an attack.
It now appears that the British are in a similar bind. According to an article in The Register, the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) has predicted that a cyber attack that caused even minor damage would prove “catastrophic” for public confidence in the government.
As use of the Internet becomes even more interconnected with daily operations, “any interruption of broadband access becomes intolerable and will have serious impacts on the the economy and public well being,” according to the CSOC. “A successful cyber attack against public services would have a catastrophic impact on public confidence in the government, even if the actual damage caused by the attack were minimal.”
The report for Whitehall is part of a report produced by the CSOC about future threats.