Is the UK’s Trident nuclear program at risk from cyberattack?

In an interview with the Guardian this week, former British defence secretary Des Brown called on the British Prime Minister to hold an ‘end-to-end assessment’ of the Trident nuclear program’s cybersecurity, or risk potential weaknesses in the system.

Brown highlighted a report by the US department of defense which warned that the US and its allies “cannot be confident” about the security of their system in the event of a cyberattack by a well-resourced opponent.

Earlier this month, a previously overlooked flaw which allowed the IP address of VPN users to be seen by other customers was uncovered by VPN provider Perfect Privacy.

Although multiple VPN providers assured their users that a fix for this security flaw was swiftly implemented on their systems, the issue demonstrates that even sophisticated systems can suffer from relatively simple security holes.

During the interview, Brown asks for reassurance from PM David Cameron that the Trident system has been throughly assessed to ensure that every possible weakness has been identified.

Barbara Speed from the New Statesman argues that the security of the Trident system should not be considered in relation to other cybersecurity scares because the Ministry of Defence operates on a different network from other internet users. She confirms that a spokesperson from the MoD assured the NS that the Trident system is ‘air-gapped’ – i.e. isolated from less secure systems.

Although this doesn’t mean that the Ministry of Defence is immune to cyberthreats, security experts suggest that the possibility of a cyberattacker being able to use code to jump air-gapped systems is highly unlikely at this point in time.

Author , ESET

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