Cyber attack fears against Britain’s newest warship as it’s revealed the £3.1bn HMS Queen Elizabeth uses vulnerable Windows XP.
Fears were raised last night that Britain’s new aircraft carrier could be vulnerable to a cyber-attack after it emerged the ship was still using the outdated computer software used by the NHS.
Navy chiefs boasted the defence system on the UK’s biggest ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be NASA standard – rather than like the NHS system that was hacked into several months ago.
But computers in the flying control room on the £3.1billion state-of-the-art carrier showed the system was still running on Windows XP.
The vast majority of NHS computers hit by a global cyber-attack in May this year were running Windows XP, which can have serious security flaws.
The operating system was released in 2001, and Microsoft cut support for it in 2014. Microsoft no longer distributes security updates for XP, leaving it vulnerable to viruses and cyber-criminals.
Experts have warned those still running the software after 2014 – and not receiving extended security support after the cut-off date – are at risk of getting hacked.
Amid heightened concerns that states could launch cyber-attacks against the UK in a new type of warfare, cyber warfare experts will be deployed with the carrier when it becomes operational in 2020.
A Destroyer and other escorts will also ward off any attempt by enemy forces to hack into the systems by using jamming equipment.
Speaking from the flying control room – Flyco – on the carrier, Cdr Mark Deller, commander air, downplayed any security risk to the carrier, saying it would have the necessary security measures when it deploys on missions.
He said: ‘The ship is well designed and there has been a very very stringent procurement train that has ensured we are less susceptible to cyber than most.
‘I would say compared to the NHS buying computers off the shelf, I would think we are probably better than that. If you think more NASA and less NHS you are probably in the right place.’
He suggested any outdated systems would be upgraded, adding: ‘When you buy a ship, you don’t buy it today, you bought it 20 years ago…