"Moreover, a system, that is compromised can not be trusted in decision-making".
'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 times of heightened tension, cyberattacks on nuclear weapons systems could cause an escalation, which results in their use...."
A hack could lead to false information being passed to decision makers during a crisis, the think tank, Chatham House, based in London, said in a new report.
It continues: "Cyber vulnerabilities within nuclear weapons systems and structures present a whole set of dangers and risks".
Nuclear weapons are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could have "catastrophic" consequences due to their reliance on new technology, a report warns today.
As an example of what is possible, the research paper cited a Washington Post report published in March 2017 that said the USA had infiltrated parts of North Korea's missile systems and caused test failures.
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Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear DIsarmament said, "This unsafe new policy expands the role of nuclear weapons in United States foreign policy and makes nuclear war more likely". If systems went down, then a country believing it is under attack, when it isn't, could launch deadly nuclear warheads by mistake.
It says: "Nuclear weapons systems were first developed at a time when computer capabilities were in their infancy and (at the time) little consideration was given to potential malicious cyber vulnerabilities".
Researchers Dr Beyza Unal and Dr Patricia Lewis outlined a number of doomsday scenarios that could hit any nuclear arsenal in the world.
This could "infect digital components of a system at any time", which the think-tank said could lead to countries launching nuclear weapons by accident. "These should incorporate an analysis of a combination of threats, vulnerabilities and consequences", they said.
"Whether it's assigning the defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order, requiring a Congressional Declaration of War before the first use of nuclear weapons, or ending the policy of nuclear first use entirely, any of these common-sense measures would reduce the risk we now face". Although some information is publicly available on U.S. weapons systems, there is very little information regarding other nuclear weapons states.