‘Fake news’ used to increase realism of power grid wargames
“Fake news” is being used to up the realism of a two-day exercise conducted by the federal government and industry, called GridEx, meant to simulate an attack on the nation’s electricity system, according to officials with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the host group for the exercise.
“On the exercise side, we are able to create news stories, and participants themselves are also able to inject messages, tweet updates,” said NERC Vice President Marcus Sachs on a call Thursday with reporters. “And we have had some reaction from members questioning whether what they are seeing is accurate, questioning whether … and using the words ‘is this fake news?’”
“I think that term has become part of our lexicon now,” Sachs said. “So, there is an awareness to, is what we’re seeing completely accurate, or is it designed to fool us? Is it potentially a threat actor making something up and trying to psychologically push people in the wrong direction? So, that’s part of the exercise. That’s fair play.”
The simulated news stories also include Twitter and Facebook posts, Sachs said. “We are acting as though it’s the real world and the participants are able to do a version like Twitter, we don’t use those names, we have slightly different names, but we’ve seen several utilities publishing simulated photographs of damage, of explosions” to go along with radio and TV simulations of the attacks.
“We understand the impact in the real world of what news and social media is doing, so we’re playing that out in the exercise,” he said. “This has been very novel because it’s a bit of free play” where the utilities are “even allowed to inject fake news as part of this.”