Britain’s largest warship is vulnerable to Cyber Attacks!

HMS Queen Elizabeth which happens to be the world’s largest warship has finally made its way into the sea waters of Scotland yesterday just before midnight. Squeezing itself under the Forth Bridge of Scotland, the ship which weighs around 65,000 tons sailed for the first time giving cheers to the gathered public.

But can you believe that the England’s biggest warship is vulnerable to cyber attacks despite the navy of Britain boasting of NASA standard security in the vessel?

Yes, as per the news report published in Daily Mail, London’s HMS Queen Elizabeth has Windows XP loaded computers in its control room exposing the entire computer network of the vessel extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks such as ransomware.

Remember, May 2017 witnessed a major WannaCry ransomware break out on NHS systems which disrupted the operations of the healthcare organizations for weeks.

So, how safe is the £3.1 billion state of the art carrier when it comes to cyber attacks?

Well, Navy Chiefs both on and off the board the vessel have boasted to the media last week that the defense system of the UK’s biggest ever warship is having security features of NASA Standards. But when the media was allowed into the ship for a short period of time, they discovered that the systems in the control room of the carrier were running on the Windows XP system which was released by Microsoft in 2001 and was declared dead and almost extinct by the software giant since 2014. As Microsoft no longer distributes security updates for XP, it leaves the systems running on the said OS extremely vulnerable to all variants of threats prevailing in the cyberspace.

Thus, if the system on the Britain’s biggest ever warship is running on XP, there is a high possibility that the naval vessel could come under a cyber attack at any moment. Especially when countries like Russia, North Korea, and China are lurking in cyberspace to exploit the flaws exposed by foreign nations the threat increases by many times on vulnerability scale.

But Sir Michael Cashel Fallon, the UK’s defense secretary has quashed all media reports which stated that HMS Queen Elizabeth was extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Mr. Fallon said that the ship has a team of cyber warfare experts deployed with the carrier. He added that the team will serve the ship until 2020 i.e. till the time when the ship becomes fully operational.
Fallon stated that a destroyer and other escorts assisting the ship operations will also help ward off any attempt made by enemy nations to hack the carrier’s systems by using the jamming equipment.

Speaking from the flying control room- ‘Flyco’- CDR Mark Deller, the Commander Air also downplayed any security risk fears to the warship. He concurred with what Mr. Fallon has said and added that the ship’s computer systems will get a new software upgrade by this year end.

Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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