Britain’s Largest Warship Has Docked in Its Home Port With Concerns Over Its Cyber Security

Rebekah Valero-Lee IT


History has been made today as the £3billion HMS Queen Elizabeth has docked in its home port – Portsmouth Harbour.

The 65,000-tonne ship has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where it was built, in June. However, there are still growing concerns over its security.

The military have expressed concerns over whether aircraft carriers are not only anachronistic but also vulnerable to attack from increasingly sophisticated missiles. But, they may have bigger fish to fry with numerous other attacks currently at the forefront of everyone’s minds – cyber attacks.

Outdated Software

There have been claims that the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest ever warship, is running the outdated Microsoft Windows XP, the same software that left the NHS exposed and affected 30,000 computers in 150 countries. In addition, Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, meaning it does not receive updates to protect users.

This doesn’t fill us with much confidence about running the software on our own PC’s, let alone on £6 billion worth of the nation’s flagship naval defence.

‘Air Gapped’ Means ‘Air Gapped’

However, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has insisted the aircraft carrier is ‘properly protected’ and that “it’s not the system itself, of course, that’s vulnerable, it’s the security that surrounds it.” Indeed Windows XP is still widely used for major industrial control systems around the world, a. because it’s very reliable, and b. because those systems which use it don’t normally make any extensive use of deep, complex features of the operating systems. Plain and simple, it’s about how accessible those systems are to being attacked from the outside. This idea is reinforced as the technology is ‘air gapped’, meaning there is an air gap between the system in question and any other system and/or any external communications system such as the internet.

A spokesperson from Morson Cyber Security partner, Assuria, reassuringly states that “many big businesses and military/scientific organisations routinely avoid using the ‘latest and greatest’ version of products from major vendors because they’re usually full of bugs for the first couple of years”.

Finally, skilled engineers, including hundreds of Morson’s own contractors, have worked round the clock getting the vessel ready for its departure. Its commanding officer Jerry Kyd said “there is nothing on the globe that is invulnerable”, so we can only hope the WannaCry attack and other cyber attacks are fully behind us.

Morson On The Job

Following the completion of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the re invigoration of the UK’s shipbuilding industry, Morson are seeing a huge influx of engineering jobs at shipyards across the UK. This is an encouraging sign for the economy. As the UK’s largest supplier of marine trades Morson has a significant number of roles at several prominent shipyards across the UK (have a look here). These roles are varied and diverse, with both trades and white-collar opportunities in electrical and mechanical to design and logistics. Our locations are as diverse as the roles available and span across the country from Glasgow to Plymouth.

To apply and find out more about the exciting engineering jobs on offer in the marine and shipbuilding industry, please click here.

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