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Richard Clarke’s role-playing game

Former White House cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke has kept busy as a writer and security consultant since his well-documented falling out with the Bush Administration a few years back. Among his more recent pursuits is fiction writing, including his latest book, “Breakpoint.”

At a breakfast with IT security officers put on by vendor Liquid Machines Wednesday — during the Gartner IT Security Summit in Washington — Clarke explained how his foray into fiction is part of his ongoing effort to raise everyone’s awareness on the dangers of the digital age.

He noted that during his White House tenure, President Clinton pondered ways to raise awareness on the threat of a potential chemical weapons attack. He came up with one awareness-raising exercise that was a role-playing game of sorts, where he would assemble his cabinet and show them pieces of news footage involving such threats. A cabinet secretary would then be picked at random and asked to explain what their department would do if certain incidents were to occur.

“They would then go back to their departments and try to figure out what they’d do,” Clarke explained.

He considers his fiction work part of a larger role-playing game, a visualization exercise to make corporate execs think about what they’d do in the face of an Internet attack.

“Breakpoint” is set in the future and is about hackers who are breaking into systems, degrading the backbone of the Internet.

Clark said the idea with his fiction work is to help make corporate execs be aware of the potential for cyberattacks. But don’t call it fiction.

“My publisher said we should use the word thriller instead of fiction,” Clark said.

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