New Report Suggests Nuclear Weapons Could be at Risk From a Cyberattack

Thursday, January 11, 2018
By Paul Martin

A report published by Chatham House suggests nuclear defenses are at risk from a cyber-attack that could lead to them being launched. The paper from the Royal Institute of International Affairs, says while the potential impacts of cyberattacks on nuclear weapons systems are enormous, the issue has received little attention.

Dr David Lowe, a terrorism expert and consultant, spoke to Sputnik about the report and what needs to be done to make sure defence systems are up to date.

Sputnik: What can you tell us about the report and dangers of a possible cyber threat?

Dr David Lowe: I think it’s quiet concerning that especially when you’re talking of the Trident system which is a nuclear warhead, there was that danger that cybersecurity that someone could hack into a system and just disrupt it. The worst case scenario would be to gain even further access if they hacked it. There should be alarm bells ringing in government really for Ministry of Defence in particular but really all governments to start looking at their systems and to make sure that what they’ve got are trustworthy systems with the best capabilities to prevent hacking.

Sputnik: Do you think there have been attempts to infiltrate nuclear weapons already?

Dr David Lowe: It would surprise me, not just the UK but other states around the world, there might be some individuals out there, who tried to access them, individuals or groups even. That’s why there’s got to be that constant risk assessment, that’s what needs to be stressed, we need that constant risk or intelligent assessment of the systems to try to minimise this threat.

Sputnik: Do you believe we have become reliant on digital and that is why there are more threats?

Dr David Lowe: Possibly, we mentioned Trident no doubt there are others that other states have got, they began many years ago. We only have to look at recent years at how technology has advanced. If you look at the turn of the century, we were delighted with the Nokia phone that we had that could send text messages and limited internet access and now look at our mobile phones, generally you look at the improvements in technology but with the improvements in technology, you need the improvements in defending the systems you’ve got from cyberattacks.

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