The Pentagon – and a growing cyber industrial complex – gears up for the new front line: cyberspace. Cyber defense is necessary. But it could cost us.
Illustration by Nancy Stahl
Wall Township, N.J.
In the eastern New Jersey suburbs, a train carrying radiological material is barreling toward a small town, and it is up to Pentagon cyber-operators to derail it. The town is the kind of idyllic whistle-stop hamlet where residents socialize at a cafe with complimentary Wi-Fi while surfing FaceSpace, a social networking site.
But danger lurks all around. Terrorists are using the open Wi-Fi connection to hack into the laptop of a patron who works at the hospital down the street. They plan to find the hospital codes stored in his computer to access the mayor's medical records, in which they will change the dosage of a prescription the mayor refills regularly in an effort to poison him.
They have other nefarious future schemes, too: They will cut the power grid with a nasty cybervirus and destroy the local water supply by engineering a program to make it appear as though the reservoir is polluted. When employees dump chemicals into the water to fix the problem, they will inadvertently be doing just what the terrorists want: contaminating the water supply.
This model town – CyberCity – is one of the US military's premier cyberwar simulators. Situated in a surprisingly unassuming suburban enclave, it is built with hobby shop-supplied model trains, miniature cellphone towers, and streetlights – all attached to a miniature power grid.
Page 1 of 12