Using a virtual town complete with a bank, a hospital with patients, railroads, heating systems, a coffee shop, and 15,000 virtual people -- each with their own email accounts, passwords and bank accounts -- that have jobs, the military is practice network defense.
To be more specific, this virtual town, which is called CyberCity and is run on New Jersey computer networks, gives the Air Force and other military branches an opportunity to prepare for various cyber- and terrorist-related scenarios, The Washington Post reported. In one scenario, for instance, the military must stop a speeding train harboring weapons of mass destruction.
The system, which also contains a physical model of the virtual town, was created by security firm Counter Hack. “It might look to some people like a toy or game,” Ed Skoudis, founder of Counter Hack, told The Washington Post. “But cyberwarriors will learn from it.”
Once considered an afterthought, network security is now a huge industry that is becoming an increasing concern for the federal government. Congress has failed several times to pass legislation that would create a cybersecurity program to protect the nation's infrastrucutre. And although President Obama has reportedly drafted an executive order to facilitate such protection, some have criticized the order as ineffectual.
“The problem is the bad guys are getting better much faster than we are,” Skoudis told The Washington Post. “We don’t want to fall further behind on this.”