Are you having a good new year? I was, sort of, but then this happened…
The world’s nuclear arsenals are becoming increasingly susceptible to hackers, which is about as cheery as reading that Piers Morgan has won an award.
According to think tank Chatham House, the race-extinction weapons systems of the UK, US and others are becoming more vulnerable because they were ‘developed before the advancement of computer technology…As a result, current nuclear strategy often overlooks the widespread use of digital technology in nuclear systems’.
Apparently and horrifyingly, there are a ‘number of vulnerabilities and pathways through which a malicious actor may infiltrate a nuclear weapons system without a state’s knowledge’.
The think tank goes on to list human error and system failures within the atomic supply chain as weak links in the line between being alive and the planet blowing up. ‘Cyberattack methods such as data manipulation, digital jamming and cyber spoofing could jeopardize the integrity of communication, leading to increased uncertainty in decision-making,’ it horribly posits.
Chatham House warns that systems could be breached by criminals, dodgy states and terrorists – none of which sound like the sort of people I’d be happy giving control of thermonuclear ordnance to. Having said that, I can’t think of anyone who’s ever existed who I’d be happy to hand control of such stuff to. Can you?
The report mentions the US’s alleged hack of North Korea’s nuclear programme, which may have helped lead to the bomb-obsessed state’s missile test failure last April.
Silly North Korea, haha – except it turns out that the silos of the US’s own intercontinental Minuteman nuclear missiles are ‘particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks,’ so who’s laughing now, America? Not me, that’s for sure.
Concluding, the report’s authors, Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis, who are not the sort of people you’d turn to for help with insomnia, gloomily write: ‘At best, cyber insecurity in nuclear weapons systems is likely to undermine trust and confidence in military capabilities and in the nuclear weapons infrastructure.
‘At worst, cyberattacks could lead to deliberate misinformation and the inadvertent launch of nuclear weapons. In times of crisis, loss of confidence in nuclear weapons capabilities would factor into decision-making and could undermine beliefs in nuclear deterrence – particularly in extending nuclear deterrence to allied countries.’
Remember when it was just WannaCry and dodgy CPUs we had to worry about?
Anyway, here’s the full report, which I don’t recommend you read – unless, that is, you’ve some responsibility for nuclear weapons security, in which case I implore you to at least flick through it.