The British American Security Information Council(BASIC) has predicted that UK’s Trident Submarine fleet is vulnerable to cyber attacks which might even trigger a nuclear war. In the 38-page report titled as “Hacking UK Trident: A Growing Threat”, the Council has quashed out the claims of Ministry of Defense which earlier said that the operating systems of Britain’s nuclear submarines are impossible to penetrate.
In May 2017, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued a media statement saying that their submarines were not prone to cyber attacks such as Wanna cry ransomware because they are not connected to the internet at that point.
But BASIC’s report argues that criminals funded by some state-funded actors can deploy the malware when the submarines are in the dock which when at sea can become activated and can yield devastating results such as neutralizing operations, leading to loss of life, defeat or perhaps even catastrophic exchange of warheads.
Since the Trident nuclear submarines are docked at the Faslane Naval Base in Scotland for all maintenance related issues, there is a high probability of criminals launching a cyber attack at the docking station when the maintenance work of the submersible machines is taking place or after it is completed.
Des Browne who served as UK’s Defense Secretary till 2007 said that the report of BASIC is true and admitted that Trident fleet is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Micheal Fallon, the defense secretary of UK in a recent media briefing admitted that UK’s nuclear submarines use the same Windows XP Software that was hacked in the wanna cry attack on the NHS. But at the same time, he defended the government by saying that he is pretty confident that the onboard dedicated teams of network managers are highly complacent to deflect any such attack.
Finally, the report suggests that if UK government decides to improve cyber security for the Trident Program then it would need several billions of pounds over the next 15 years.
Note- Trident Nuclear Program is United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons program under which 4 Vanguard class submarines are armed with Trident II D-5 Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering thermonuclear warheads. UK’s Royal Navy operates Trident Nuclear weapons from Clyde Naval Base located on the west coast of Scotland. At least 2 submarines are always on patrol to provide continuous security to the entire UK