UK Trident submarines vulnerable to cyber attack, think tank warns

Photo: Royal Navy

The threat of a cyber attack getting past the defense systems of Royal Navy’s Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines is real, a think tank has warned.

According to a report by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), claims that the submarines’ isolated ‘air-gapped’ systems cannot be penetrated are simply false.

The report, published this month, reviewed the possibilities of a cyber attack on the Royal Navy’s Trident II D-5 armed submarines and the implications of a successful attack.

A successful attack – one which would take over control of a nuclear-tipped missile – could even start a nuclear war, the report says.

While the electronic network and communication systems installed aboard the submarines are secure, BASIC argues that they could be exposed to malware injections during maintenance and upgrade procedures.

Other cyber threats facing the submarines are the development of underwater drones which could allow for close proximity kinetic and cyber-attacks, and the smuggling in of nano and bionic technologies.

The best way to prevent these attacks is constant vigilance both during operations and in-port. Updates of software and hardware in addition to regular testing and inspections are essential if the UK wants to maintain its strategic superiority, the report concluded.

Read the full report here

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