A former defence secretary has warned of the dangers that enemy hackers pose to Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
Lord Des Browne has claimed that enemy hackers could launch a cyber-attack that could cripple Britain’s nuclear deterrent, leaving the country vulnerable to a devastating real world attack.
The ex-defence secretary has said it may be possible for cyber-criminals to take our nukes offline, meaning the Prime Minister could not use them in an emergency.
Officials fear countries like Russia or China could hack Britain’s defence systems, allowing them to attack us while we’re defenceless.
Lord Browne told the BBC:
The government … have an obligation to assure parliament that all of the systems of the nuclear deterrent have been assessed end-to-end against cyber-attacks to understand possible weak spots and that those weak spots are protected against a high-tier cyber threat.Advertisement
If they are unable to do that then there is no guarantee that we will have a reliable deterrent or the prime minister will be able to use this system when he needs to reach for it.Mirror
Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system is unlikely to be vulnerable to hacking, because insulating critical systems against cyber-attacks has become a government priority.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Tory defence secretary, spoke of the safety of the terrifyingly named mutually assured destruction, saying:
The whole point of our nuclear weapons is not whether they would work – 100% guarantee – if they were ever required. You think they will do. The question is whether an enemy contemplating aggression would be prepared to take the risk.”
The comments come in the midst of a political row about whether we should keep Trident, or instead invest in a new nuclear weapons system, although some estimates suggest that could cost £41 billion.