Report highlights Trident nuclear hack vulnerabilities

A new report, published by the British American Security Information Council (Basic), has argued that the UK’s Trident submarine fleet is vulnerable to hacking that could render Britain’s nuclear weapons useless.

Hacking UK Trident: A Growing Threat suggests that a ‘catastrophic’ cyber attack could ‘neutralise operations, lead to loss of life, defeat or perhaps even the catastrophic exchange of nuclear warheads’.

The Ministry of Defence stresses that the operating systems of the nuclear submarines are impenetrable while at sea due to the fact that they are not connected to the internet at that point. However, the report contests that the vessel, missiles, warheads and support systems ‘rely on networked computers, devices and software’ that ‘incorporate unique data and must be regularly upgraded, reconfigured and patched’.

The UK has four nuclear-power submarines, which are are scheduled to be replaced in service within the next 15 years. The report’s authors, Stanislav Abaimov and Paul Ingram, estimate that the capital costs for the UK government to improve cyber security for the Trident programme would run to several billions of pounds over the same period.

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