This past April, McAfee employees joined with more than 2000 members of the private industry, federal government, and international partners to participate in a three-day cyber exercise called Cyber Storm, led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal of the exercise was to simulate discovery and response to a large-scale, coordinated cyber-attack impacting the U.S. critical infrastructure, and improve cybersecurity coordination for the nation.

These exercises are part of DHS’s ongoing efforts to assess and strengthen cyber preparedness and examine incident response processes. The Cyber Storm series also strengthens information sharing partnerships among federal, state, international, and private-sector partners. During the three-day exercise, we simulated a cyber crisis of national and international consequence. This exercise gave the McAfee team the ability to test both internal and external incident response processes in a safe venue.

While DHS does not disclose specific details about the scenario for operational security purposes, Cyber Storm VI featured a multi-sector cyber-attack targeting critical infrastructure that produced realistic global events with varied impacts. McAfee was one of over 100 participating public and private sector organizations.

I had the opportunity to be one of the members sitting inside ExCon or exercise control. This was the nucleus of the cyber exercise! It was a busy three days as new incidents were sent out, watching how teams responded, and adjusting if things didn’t go exactly as planned. This simulation allowed us to learn and gave us a unique opportunity to raise our game. We now have more processes in place ready to deal with cyber-attacks if they were to occur. The teams executed well, revealing the strengths of our critical relationships with government agencies and other private sector organizations.

I was particularly impressed how DHS executed and collaborated with all the various organizations participating. Because the participants took it seriously, it made it feel very real. Given the well-founded concerns around cybersecurity and the demands the cyber threat landscape regularly places on us, it was great to see different organizations from different agencies and vertical industry segments coming together when needed. Such large-scale simulation was no easy feat, but the core planning team in conjunction with all the organization planners made it run without a hitch. For more information on Cyber Storm, visit https://www.dhs.gov/cyber-storm.

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