Is Trident safe from cyber attack?

Posted by ap507 at Feb 08, 2016 09:35 AM |
Dr Andrew Futter discusses challenges presented to UK nuclear weapons

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk

Last year, former UK Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, warned that UK nuclear weapons could “be rendered obsolete by hackers”, and that without a comprehensive assessment of this risk to the Trident system, a future Prime Minister may not be certain they had a “reliable deterrent” that could be used when needed.

Lord Browne’s comments, which were based on personal experience and a 2013 report from the US Defense Science Board, have been met with a diverse reception; for some the Trident system is inherently safe from hackers because it is “air-gapped” from the wider Internet when on patrol under the surface of the ocean; while others claim that cyber attacks could make the system obsolete before work on the successor even begins. Either way, the fact that Trident relies on numerous computers, complex software and endless lines of code means it must be assumed to be vulnerable to interference in some way, and this new challenge seems set to play an increasingly important role in the debate over renewal, and raise serious questions about the longer-term efficacy of the UK nuclear deterrent.

This article looks into what we actually mean by “the cyber threat”, what exactly might be vulnerable, it what ways, and to whom, in order to better grasp the overarching challenge presented to UK nuclear weapons...

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Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk