Cyber attacks on nuclear systems could lead to 'inadvertent' missile launches

Cyber attacks on nuclear systems could lead to 'inadvertent' missile launches

Donald Trump is reported to be planning to adopt a far more hawkish position on nuclear weapons in a move that is being seen as making a potential conflict using such ordinance more likely.

The report, Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems: Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences, was written by Beyza Unal, a research fellow at London-based Chatham House who previously worked on strategic analysis at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and Patricia Lewis, research director of the worldwide security department at Chatham House. Inadvertent nuclear launches could stem from an unwitting reliance on false information and data.

'And there is pretty good, moderate but strong language that makes clear that any attempt by Russian Federation or North Korea to use nuclear weapons would result in a massive outcome for them and I think that's actually moderate, centrist and probably very much needed'.

It cited examples such as a report the USA could have infiltrated the supply chain of North Korea's missile system that contributed to a test failure in April previous year.

'Nuclear weapons systems were first developed at a time when computer capabilities were in their infancy and little consideration was given to potential malicious cyber vulnerabilities, ' the report's authors said.

Nuclear weapons systems are under threat from criminal groups, hostile states and terrorist organisations exploiting cyber vulnerabities, according to the report.

The claim comes from Chatham House in its report "Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems: Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences", which details the history of nuclear weapons systems and the inherent risks built into them. "Moreover, a system, that is compromised can not be trusted in decision-making".

Cyber interference could also destroy industrial control systems within delivery platforms, such as submarines, causing them to malfunction, while clandestine attacks could be conducted on targeting information or operational commands, which may not be discovered until the point of launch.

"At times of heightened tension, cyber attacks on nuclear weapons systems could cause an escalation, which results in their use".

"This unknown could have implications for military decision-making, particularly for decisions affecting nuclear weapons deterrence policies".

He said that to make that credible, the United States needed to develop two new types of nuclear warheads. It's going to be really nice when the world is incinerated in nuclear fire.

According to the researchers, possible cyber resilience measures include taking a holistic approach in creating trustworthy systems based on rigorous risk assessments.

The authors called for more transparency, arguing that "it is the public that will pay the ultimate price for complacency regarding cybersecurity of nuclear weapons systems".

It added: "Presently, this is a relatively ungoverned space and these vulnerabilities could serve to undermine the overall integrity of national nuclear weapons systems". "Academia and civil society should be encouraged to bring this issue to the attention of their government".