UK's nuclear weapons are vulnerable to a cyber attack, says study


A hack could lead to false information being passed to decision makers during a crisis, the think tank, Chatham House, based in London, said in a new report.

Nuclear weapons systems - including the UK's Trident warheads - were first developed when computers were in their infancy and little consideration was given to cyber vulnerabilities, the authors warn.

But it added: 'At worst, cyber-attacks could lead to deliberate misinformation and the inadvertent launch of nuclear weapons'. "As a result, current nuclear strategy often overlooks the widespread use of digital technology in nuclear systems", the authors of the study said.

'Inadvertent nuclear launches could stem from an unwitting reliance on false information and data. "Moreover, a system, that is compromised can not be trusted in decision-making".

The report suggests the likelihood of attempted cyber attacks on nuclear weapons systems is "relatively high", and cites information that the U.S. may have infiltrated parts of North Korea's missile systems a year ago and caused test failures.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the review recalibrated priorities "to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism", adding: "we are reducing the role and number of weapons in our arsenal, while maintaining a safe, secure and effective deterrent to protect our nation, allies and partners". "Human error, systems failures, design vulnerabilities and susceptibilities within the supply chain all represent common security issues in nuclear weapons systems".

The Donald Trump administration is planning to develop a smaller low-yield nuclear weapon that can be mounted on US Trident missiles, a formal official who was privy to the draft of a policy review, revealed.

The likelihood of attempted cyber-attacks on nuclear weapons is high and increasing from "advanced persistent threats from states and non-state groups", the report found.

While the researchers do not claim that emerging technologies are the primary risk to consider in the nuclear field, they argue that although key risk areas have existed for a long time, new technology has exacerbated these risks.

Trump warned the hermit country: 'North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un just stated that the "Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times". These should incorporate an analysis of a combination of threats, vulnerabilities and consequences.

"The United States already possesses a diverse array of nuclear capabilities, and there is no evidence that more usable weapons will strengthen deterrence of adversaries or compel them to make different choices about their arsenals", Kimball wrote on the Arms Control Today website.

The threat has received scant attention so far from those involved in nuclear military planning and the procurement of weapons, the report said.