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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
April 1, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General


Roger Shatzkin
Maria M. Cardiellos


Full-Day TOPOFF3 Cyber Exercise Tests Information Systems

TRENTON – New Jersey engaged in a full-day TOPOFF3 Cyber Exercise to test the response of state government’s computer networks and its information technology policies and practices in the event a series of widespread, escalating cyber events ever struck the state, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey and Attorney General Harvey announced.

A prelude to the national TOPOFF 3 Exercise taking place next week in New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as in Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom and Canada, the TOPOFF3 cyber test, conducted on Wednesday, featured sophisticated computer tabletop exercises. These simulations dealt with situations in which federal, state and local government information technology organizations had to respond in concert to a series of scenarios in which information technology security was disrupted or breached.

“New Jersey is uniquely on the front lines of the war against terror so we have to be well-prepared,” said Acting Governor Codey. “New Jersey is better prepared than many states, but we are putting our preparedness to a rigorous test through the full-scale TOPOFF 3 exercise next week. This week we tested our preparedness in the cyber realm, learning how we can protect the information systems we rely on so extensively from being compromised by an attack.”

“This cyber exercise tested our abilities to respond to the possibility of disruptions or outages in our computer networks,” Harvey said. “The exercise provided a realistic test of our individual agencies’ abilities to perform and perhaps, more importantly, our agencies’ abilities to work together across jurisdictions at the local, state and federal levels.”

“The TOPOFF exercise allows us to strengthen any weaknesses to ensure we can continue to provide the vital services that rely on our solid, robust technical infrastructure,” said Charles S. Dawson, Chief Technology Officer for the state of New Jersey. “These planning exercises help us prepare to react if any of our systems is attacked, damaged or destroyed.”

Participants in the TOPOFF3 cyber exercise examined the actions required to limit potential damage caused by network compromise, and to minimize the effect on operations. The exercise required participants to make real-time decisions in response to different, escalating events that slowed or stopped network operations. These events triggered management decision-making exercises about the associated business and communication functions required to recover the systems and resume providing essential public services.

“Working together with many public sector agencies, this exercise truly helped us organize a regional, coordinated response to a potential cyber event,” said Maria M. Cardiellos, Chief Information Officer of the Office of the Attorney General. “The exercise was an excellent opportunity to test assumptions and test the human element that is still the key to maintaining our technological systems.”

Agencies involved in the cyber exercise included the Office of the Attorney General, Office of Counter-Terrorism, New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Information Technology within the Department of Treasury, Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Governor's Office, along with numerous agencies from Hudson County, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the local regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, the FBI, as well as representatives of the private sector. The cyber exercise was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and hosted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Office of Information Technology.

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