Tech experts have put a scary thought in everyone’s head when they warned that Britain’s atomic weapons could be hacked and used to start a global nuclear war.
The BASIC (British American Security Information Council) has just published a report in which they claim that potential hackers or cyber spies could, take command of the Trident submarines’ systems, and then use them for their own purposes. These might include neutralization of operations, loss of multiple lives, or even multiple nuclear attacks.
This sounds like a plot of a bad movie, but the scary thing is that the technology is now so advanced that even the newest submarines might become a target for the cyber attack. These attacks, especially the unanticipated ones would almost certainly be able to breach any line of defense that the submarines could use.
Still, despite the fact that the technology that we have allows it, BASIC still thinks that the hackers don’t have the skill for pulling something like this off. Penetrating the Trident’s systems requires a high level of skill and sophistication, that the hackers simply aren’t capable of, especially if they’re lonely teenagers that are conducting hacking attacks from their parent’s basements. That would mean that any sort of attack would almost certainly have to come from another nation.
That means that these kids with computers aren’t a threat that everyone should worry about. Instead, nations with strong offensive cyber capabilities should be considered to be real threats. These submarines spend the majority of their time at sea, and when they do, they’re on a patrol that most of the time takes a shape of geographical ‘boxes’. These can even measure up to thousands of square miles in size.
Most of the time, only several crew members even know where the subs are, and they’re not even connected to the wider internet. All of this makes it very hard to even find them, and hacking them would be almost impossible for anyone but the professionals.
Still, there’s always a possibility of injecting malware into the subs’ systems, especially during the time of building or repairing the subs. The malware that gets injected that way could simply hide and lay dormant until it’s activated by radio transmissions. If this was to happen during the time of crisis or perhaps a war, then the Britain would lose their ability to launch an attack against the enemy. On the other hand, the enemy would be safe to attack with full force, knowing that the Britain can’t respond with an attack of their own,
The former UK Secretary of Defence, Des Browne, has even admitted that hacking a nuclear sub is a real threat and that the WannaCry ransomware that crippled half the world a few weeks ago is only a taste of what’s possible. This is what happens when cyber-weapons are stolen and shared among cyber criminals. The technology that’s used for critical digital systems that are guarding the nukes isn’t immune to the hacking attacks, nor can it be protected against professionals, and hacking of such weapons is one of the biggest dangers of today.