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Hacking Nuclear Command and Control

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-haven't-you-radioed-the-plans-countermanding-the-go-code dept.

The Military 256

The Walking Dude writes "The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) has released an unclassified report exploring the possibility of cyber terrorists launching nuclear weapons. Ominous exploits include unreliable early warning sensors, unsecure nuclear weapons storage, transportation blunders, breaches in the chain of command, and the use of Windows on nuclear submarines. A traditional large-scale terrorist attack, such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, could be combined with computer network operations in an attempt to start a nuclear war. Amidst the confusion of the traditional attack, communications could be disrupted, false declarations of war could be issued on both sides, and early warning sensors could be spoofed. Adding to this is the short time frame in which a retaliatory nuclear response must be decided upon, in some cases as little as 15 minutes. The amount of firepower that could be unleashed in these 15 minutes would be equivalent to approximately 100,000 Hiroshima bombs."

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IRL (5, Funny)

hellfish006 (1000936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793745)

"...and the use of Windows on nuclear submarines" Talk about your Blue Screen of Death

Could, Could, Could . . . (4, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794105)

Talk about your Blue Screen of Death

Agreed, but I was wondering when the quantity of "could's" in a summary turns it from a "report" into a "work of fiction"?

Re:IRL (0, Troll)

Anivair (921745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794269)

Seriously? Windows on NUCLEAR submarines?! Okay, I know that the gubment isn't IT savy, but did they not stop to think that running an OS that any script kiddie can break with something they can double click off the net was a bad idea? I mean, screw the OS wars debate ... the fact is that windows can be broken by anyone almost accidentally. What the hell are they thinking?

Re:IRL (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794339)

they are thinking that there are hundreds of computers on a submarine. do you think every one of them has a purpose built, custom OS?

Re:IRL (4, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794433)

Windows is used on British Nuclear submarines - but not as part of the command and control system and certainly not the nuclear missile systems. Nuclear submarines have crews, and require stores control and admin systems for their food and other needs. These are standard Windows systems, but have nothing to do with the military side of the system.

Re:IRL (3, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794521)

'Windows is used on British Nuclear submarines - but not as part of the command and control system and certainly not the nuclear missile systems. Nuclear submarines have crews, and require stores control and admin systems for their food and other needs. These are standard Windows systems, but have nothing to do with the military side of the system.'

In any case, the Royal Navy has a full-tested emergency procedure for dealing with all computer-related malfunctions aboard nuclear submarines, helpfully illustrated in this official video (about 18 seconds in):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDHPCr5m4ko [youtube.com]

Re:IRL (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794705)

What the hell are they thinking?

If indeed it is true, I will answer by saying, they weren't.

Auto-update (4, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794365)

"...and the use of Windows on nuclear submarines" Talk about your Blue Screen of Death

It could be worse:
Sub Commander: "Enemy vessel has locked on and fired anti-sub missile. Impact in 10 seconds. Immediate Anti-missile counter-strike authorised. Target enemy vessel with Tomahawk."
Sub operator: "Incoming target acquired and locked on. Tomahawk ready for launch authorisation."
Computer: "Automatic update has replaced current program with I.E 8 as default. Computer re-booting. This will take 30 seconds"
Sub crew: "S**t!"

Re:Auto-update (2, Funny)

GeorgeStone22 (1532191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794413)

Sub Commander:"Fire the missiles!" Computer: *bleep blop* Sub operator:"What do you mean am I sure? Fucking thing.."

Re:Auto-update (2, Funny)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794685)

"...and the use of Windows on nuclear submarines" Talk about your Blue Screen of Death

It could be worse: Sub Commander: "Enemy vessel has locked on and fired anti-sub missile. Impact in 10 seconds. Immediate Anti-missile counter-strike authorised. Target enemy vessel with Tomahawk." Sub operator: "Incoming target acquired and locked on. Tomahawk ready for launch authorisation." Computer: "Automatic update has replaced current program with I.E 8 as default. Computer re-booting. This will take 30 seconds" Sub crew: "S**t!"

This is where Clippy would be reassuring and helpful, is in a situation like this.

oh yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793747)

"... and the use of Windows on nuclear submarines." - i stopped reading.

Re:oh yes (2, Interesting)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794275)

Why? Because you believe that nobody in the US Department of Defense would be stupid enough to have a Windows machine as part of a nuclear weapons control system, or because you believe that including Windows in anything built by DoD and its contractors couldn't really make the system significantly more vulnerable?

Re:oh yes (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794573)

Why?

Mostly because having windows on such a submarine isn't very practical.
You cant open them to get any fresh air in, there is little to no light getting in, and the view is just terrible most of the time!

Re:oh yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794659)

Maybe because the way Windows is used on a nuclear sub (Non-networked, no USB drives, et cetera) leave it pretty much 'unhackable' from somebody who doesn't already have access to that machine?

Seriously, you could use an unpatched Windows XP box with all the remote services running and no firewall, and it STILL DOESN'T MATTER SINCE THERE'S NO VECTOR ONTO THE MACHINE.

They use Windows, iirc, because that's where the development tools are. And, since security in this application is basically all physical anyway... why not?

Break out the random dialer... (4, Funny)

DaRanged (735002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793751)

Shall we play a game?

Re:Break out the random dialer... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793843)

Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War.

Re:Break out the random dialer... (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793861)

ugh, how about a nice game of chess?

which side do you want? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793987)

which side do you want?

1. USA

2. North Korea

3. Iran

Re:which side do you want? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794087)

The last 2 are't exactly a Global nuclear power

Yet

Re:which side do you want? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794653)

In real life people prefer to play at "beginner" level difficulty. It's easier to win if your enemy has no sensible weapons.

Think Civilisation... no wait, there those Phalanxes could shoot down bombers.

Re:Break out the random dialer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793997)

It's soooo 70s!

How about massive multiplayer global thermonuclear war?

Re:Break out the random dialer... (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793891)

I only play Windows game...

Re:Break out the random dialer... (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794227)

Reminds me of the exam for income tax form designers, specifically question 11:
http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/old89/test.830.html [netfunny.com]

11. POLITICAL SCIENCE

Pick up the phone on the desk beside you and start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

Speaking of games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794303)

I can't be the only person who initially misread the title of this post as "Hacking Nuclear Command and Conquer"

Re:Break out the random dialer... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794617)

Looking at my log files, I would say that there are millions of those online right now.

Windows on submarines? (4, Funny)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793759)

Windows on a submarine sound like a pretty bad idea to me...

Re:Windows on submarines? (5, Funny)

Cur8or (1220818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793775)

Maybe, but "The hunt for Redhat October" would be a bitching movie.

Re:Windows on submarines? (5, Funny)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793817)

Especially if you open one...

Re:Windows on submarines? (1)

Fyzzle (1603701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794557)

That's about as funny as a screen door on a submarine.

-Biff

Re:Windows on submarines? (3, Interesting)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793827)

I've heard about it for a while now - it's not overly new news in the UK.

At least they're not wasting resources on Vista/7 - they're using Windows XP [theregister.co.uk] , which is nice and secure(!) As the El Reg article points out, though, at least the submarine is generally a stand-alone network, which should protect it from a lot of vulnerabilities (although not all [itpro.co.uk] )

Re:Windows on submarines? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794205)

at least the submarine is generally a stand-alone network

My next-door neighbour, a middle-ranking officer on the UK's Vanguard fleet of nuclear submarines, asked me to fix his laptop ready for the recent 3-month wargame off Florida. Naturally, the "fix" was as simple as identify trojan, format, re-install MS-Windows, install Avast, advise him not to run keygens he'd randomly downloaded off a torrent, and slip an Ubuntu live CD into the laptop bag in the hope it'd pique his interest.

As I returned it to him, I said "I turned WiFi and Bluetooth off by default. I assume you'd get in trouble if your stealth-sub got spotted by something as simple as your opponent searching for available networks."

Apparently he'd never thought of that. And regaled me with stories of how long undersea voyages are just one huge wireless LAN party and movie fileswap meet. And asked me to turn WiFi and BT back on.

Nuclear subs are just one huge Faraday cage, right? Right? No really, they are... aren't they?

Re:Windows on submarines? (3, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794531)

Well, considering you're surrounded by at least three inches of steel in every direction, plus a whole bunch of salt water... I wouldn't be worried too much. It's noise you'd really be concerned about.

Re:Windows on submarines? (4, Informative)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794629)

Nuclear subs are just one huge Faraday cage, right? Right? No really, they are... aren't they?

Radio waves don't propagate far under water, as it absorbs those frequencies. If an enemy is close enough to detect your wifi or bluetooth, they are close enough to have already found you on passive sonar.

Re:Windows on submarines? (1)

bplipschitz (265300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793847)

No, it's the screen doors you have to worry about. . .

Re:Windows on submarines? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793949)

I know, what if a sailor decides to catch a breath of fresh air and opens it.

Re:Windows on submarines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794161)

that just raises more questions.

Re:Windows on submarines? (1)

craagz (965952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794005)

Why? Don't the undersea sailors deserve a nice view of the fish and Corals?

Re:Windows on submarines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794181)

Nah, they just use Windows so that those things are easy to pilot. I also heard they use Minesweeper a GUI.

Re:Windows on submarines? (0, Redundant)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794391)

Better than a screen door.

Adobe is to blame (2, Funny)

coulbc (149394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793765)

Watching a flash presentation might just launch a nuke.

Nothing to see here, move along! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793777)

OMG! What did we ever do back in the 60's?

Re:Nothing to see here, move along! (3, Funny)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793823)

We tried to nail Jane Fonda [imdb.com] .

Defcon 5 (1)

SgtJonson (1495055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793781)

These guys have been playing too much Defcon 5...

War Games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793797)

Is it just me, or did anyone else suddenly have a flashback of the movie War Games?

Dont worry... (2, Funny)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793799)

When it happens, most of us wont even know it :-)

The survivors amongst us might know after they can't access /. for 12 consecutive hours.

Ominous exploits include... (1)

drkamil (1242294) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793815)

the use of Windows on nuclear submarines. I'd like to hear a statement from microsoft on this claim. Seriously, i wonder how they will justify adding this to the list, i mean submarines don't use wep-secured wifi, and i also don't think the people in charge for the machines run kazaa as a goody?!

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28793889)

The Microsoft EULA most likely states that usage in a nuclear facility is not allowed. Quite a lot of commercial licenses have such a clause to limit liability. I doubt Microsoft would be willing to sell a license to such a facility for any reasonable price.

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794221)

I doubt Microsoft would be willing to sell a license to such a facility for any reasonable price.

I don't. Why wouldn't they?

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794379)

Let's see. Java isn't approved for critical applications and says so all over the license. I have not read it lately, but the last time I read a Microsoft EULA it specifically called out that Windows was not approved for use with medical devices. Most COTS software is specifically identified as not being suitable for life support or "other critical applications" simply because nobody in their right mind wants to be named in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Pretty much if you aren't in the business of nuclear reactor safety software you want your stuff to be as far away from that sort of environment as possible. When a bug can result in people running down the street yelling "NOOOKLEAR" and "RADIOATION!!!!" the result is blind panic that kills people. And then the jury has a real easy time of assigning blame.

Just as a reminder, how many people died as a result of Three Mile Island? 0. How many people died as a result of Chernobyl? 46 firefighters, all of whom were on the roof of the building.

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794475)

But actually, the manufacturer doesn't give a damn if you actually do use it for any or all of these purposes - provided the liability if it goes wrong doesn't rebound on them. By saying it is unsuitable, they have covered themselves when people use it in an application that might kill people. All the military would have to do is sign a piece of paper saying, in appropriate language "we are the military, we do dangerous things, we take reponsibility if those dangerous things kill the wrong people".

Re:Ominous exploits include... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794491)

"46 firefighters, all of whom were on the roof of the building."

It's a good job all the radioactive material ejected during a massive steam explosion stayed sitting on top of the building and never went anywhere else.

They have their fuel rods well trained out there!

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794511)

First of all, what are you talking about? Java is Sun, not MS. Second B2B negotiation is very, very different to B2C. We're talking about a license, not the consumer license. You do realise that with a license you can renounce any responsibility regarding the usage, so your jury nonsense doesn't hold water. It's up to the client to decide if it's a reasonable offer or not. If the plant wishes for 100% responsibility from the software supplier then no, MS would probably not agree to such a deal, but if the responsibility would be reduced then I see no reason why they wouldn't. Again, quit assuming that consumer trade policies = company trade policies.

Just a reminder, Chernobyl killed and mutilated far more victims than the initial 46 firefighters, through cancer and mutation. Not that I understood why you mentioned it in the first place...

Re:Ominous exploits include... (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794357)

The Microsoft EULA most likely states that usage in a nuclear facility is not allowed. Quite a lot of commercial licenses have such a clause to limit liability. I doubt Microsoft would be willing to sell a license to such a facility for any reasonable price.

The DoD probably just buys a site license for Windows, and uses it wherever they damn well please. Just because Microsoft says they don't want you to use their software to monitor/control nuclear weapons or power plants doesn't mean organizations avoid doing so.

People in the know (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793825)

Most people know a thing or two. Some people know their way around weapons systems but most people don't. Most people are sane and rational but a few people are not. The unabomber wasn't rational but fortunately he was a mathematician, not a rail signalling engineer or an air traffic controller.

I don't believe that Al Qaida could weasel their way into the control systems for missiles, unless they come across somebody smart enough and crazy enough to be of value to them. I don't believe there is any systematic reason why this could not happen, it is just very unlikely.

At the moment it is much easier for the terrorists to work with the tools they know.

Researching Kaczynski for this post has got me thinking. With his background he could have gone into a field where he gained access to some critical systems. Lots of secure areas employ mathematicians. But then he might not have had the time and resources to develop his nutty ideas. He had to withdraw somewhat to do that. Was the Jack D Ripper character a realistic possibility? Or would a maniac have been unable to rise to a position of responsibility?

Re:People in the know (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793885)

The unabomber wasn't rational but fortunately he was a mathematician

An irrational matematician may sound like an oxymoron, but really, there are uncountably many of them. Rational matematicians are the exception, and even they are dense. :-)

Re:People in the know (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793905)

An irrational matematician may sound like an oxymoron,

Hello? i has been around for quite a while now, you know.

Re:People in the know (2, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793941)

Okay, I finally got the joke at the second reading.

Re:People in the know (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794609)

I suck at math and I got the first time. Get with the program here, eh?

Re:People in the know (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794539)

No, that's an imaginary mathematician (e.g. Will Hunting).

Re:People in the know (1)

shaka (13165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794807)

Hello? pi has been around for quite a while now, you know.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:People in the know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794683)

An irrational matematician may sound like an oxymoron, but really, there are uncountably many of them.

Considering that the number of mathmaticians is less than the world population which is capped at less than 7 Billion (being generous), there is a finite quantity of irrational mathematicians, thus, definitely not an uncountably infinite quantity.

would a maniac... (1)

Mike Rice (626857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793893)

"would a maniac have been unable to rise to a position of responsibility?"

I thinkk the answer is... YES.
Just a few off the top of my head...

Pol Pot
Adolf Hitler
Stalin

Re:would a maniac... (0, Troll)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794083)

Cheney, need I say more. Of course Cheney becoming VP was a strategic life insurance policy on GW's part. Fucking nobody, left, right, center, terrorist, capitalist, communist, sane or insane wanted that fucker to become president. Osama Bin Laden would have thrown himself in front of a bullet meant for GW. Makes you reconsider the conventional wisdom that GW was stupid now doesn't it?

Re:would a maniac... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794499)

Cheney, need I say more. Of course Cheney becoming VP was a strategic life insurance policy on GW's part. Fucking nobody, left, right, center, terrorist, capitalist, communist, sane or insane wanted that fucker to become president. Osama Bin Laden would have thrown himself in front of a bullet meant for GW. Makes you reconsider the conventional wisdom that GW was stupid now doesn't it?

Hate to break it to you... Cheney *was* president...

Re:would a maniac... (0, Troll)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794547)

I wish cheney had become president- because we would have gone right into statism directly, no gradual slide, and people would have realised what was going on and fought it.

Obama is a center-right authoritarian, and we are going in the same direction cheney would have, but slower, so most are able to maintain their state of denial.

Before you deny- why won't Mr. Open Gov't allow us to know what health care companies and lobbyists have been visiting him?

Cheney as pres would have been more pain up front, better results in the end.

Dave

Re:People in the know (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794063)

"But then he might not have had the time and resources to develop his nutty ideas. He had to withdraw somewhat to do that."

I'd have to take issue with Kaczynski being a nut, if you actually read anything he wrote he seemed more like a misguided malcontent who channelled his frustration towards violence out of knowing powerless than someone was who was "crazy".

He understood some of the problems of modern society very well even if he did not always frame them in a way that other people would agree with, the essence of what he wrote here:

http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt [eserver.org]

He has it right that the model of society we currently use exacerbates and creates un-needed psychological stresses on human beings and that human beings are quite immature (See: George W getting elected, War in IRAQ and all that).

Some people born into this system adjust having known no other way of life, others don't and end up on social assistance.

Personally I think calling people crazy is a intellectually lazy way of not being able to criticize the deficiencies of a society, usually societies outcasts tell us a lot more about society then human beings would like to admit.

The "rational" people never seem to be able to adequately criticize their own faults nor have the degree of introspection necessary to smell the stench of their own rotten selves or society.

Re:People in the know (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794075)

But on 24 there always some greedy American who helps out the foreign bad guy subplot which is just a diversion for the white bad guy to take over the world (sorry for spoiling the next season). You mean to tell me TV is not real, next your going to tell me that reality television is not real either.

Re:People in the know (1)

amateur6 (1597289) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794079)

Admittedly I didn't read TFA, but just from the OP's summary, it sounds like the proposed terrorists need to know their way around weapons systems, they just need to successfully fool those who are in control of them into thinking they're under attack. Considering the military SNAFU response that followed the 9/11 hijackings (and no, I'm not talking about Iraq), it seems to be within the realm of the possible.

Usual fear-mongering (4, Insightful)

cluke (30394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793851)

So, the "International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament" releases a report saying Nucler weapons are dangerous? Who would have thunk it?

We don't live in a comic-book universe... (4, Insightful)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793869)

Do we have ANY super-villain cyber hackers in the world who WANT to start a nuclear war and launch 100,000 hiroshima type bombs?

Seriously?

Who do they envision being behind this? Doctor Evil???

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793897)

There must be someone who would want to use them under certain circumstances, or they wouldn't be there in the first place.

So I suppose it depends on whether "super-villain cyber hacker" are as crazy as the US government...

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794039)

not sure who said it, but... ``none of us are as dumb as all of us'' :-)

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

uberbrodt (1064400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793989)

Skynet

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794013)

While they may have listed a dozen potential vulnerabilities that *might* be used to construct their doomsday senario, how in the hell is an evil vilian going to test each exploit and assemble their master plan without the other side catching on and plugging up these holes? All this l337 haxxor scaremongoring is waaay overblown.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794637)

how in the hell is an evil vilian going to test each exploit and assemble their master plan without the other side catching on

That was (one of the many) plot holes in Die Hard 4.0. The Super Villain hires a bunch of l33t haxx0rs to create exploits for every important utilty, bank, telecom, etc. And they all finish them on time, on the same day. And they all work flawlessly, the first time.

He doesn't need to break the banks to become a billionaire if he can do that.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794119)

There are hosts of people on this planet who place more faith (pun intended) in life after death than life before death.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794141)

The source is dedicated to preventing nuclear weapons from being produced or distributed. It is backed by countries that are believed to not have nuclear weapons today. It is in their best interest nationally to exaggerate the consequences of having nuclear weapons, demonize those who have them, and convince the world of to ban such weapons as doing so would level the playing field.

Is this an accurate and objective evaluation or is it designed to further this organization's goals? I think the latter...

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

Proteus Child (535173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794145)

That appears to be their threat model, yes.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794187)

You can never underestimate the craziness of some people. I could imagine a hardcore environmentalist wanting to do this, for instance, finding the short term damage to the biosphere less harmful than the longterm damage that continued human occupation would do. A fundamentalist Christian who wants to bring about the second coming of jeebus? Someone who is just really pissed off and anti-social (in the psychological sense, not someone who doesn't like going to parties). I can envision plenty of reasons that someone might want to do this. The same could be said of many of the atrocities in human history -- why would someone want to kill off an entire race of people (Hitler)? Why would someone think it's a good idea to kill tens of millions of their own (Mao, Stalin)? People commit suicide all the time, and people commit genocide all the time. Why is it so hard to imagine someone deciding to combine the two?

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794239)

Launching 100,000? Probably not. But someone in the middle east hacking in to a US nuclear submarine in the pacific wouldn't suffer from much fallout if they launched against San Francisco, for example. If this kind of vulnerability had existed and been known a few years ago, the invasion of Iraq might have gone very differently.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794513)

If you're American, one word: Muslims.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

Stachel (718095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794747)

Do we have ANY super-villain cyber hackers in the world who WANT to start a nuclear war and launch 100,000 hiroshima type bombs?

The Walking Dude is looking for revenge after failing to get the most out of the Captain Trips situation.

Re:We don't live in a comic-book universe... (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794759)

In actuality, it is not 100,000 seperate bombs. It is the equivalent. I'm thinking that it is more like 10,000 bombs that are 10x stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima. Remember, that bomb was dropped in the 1940's. They have had decades to improve upon its design.

Navy nets are segregated (5, Informative)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793953)

From personal experience I can say that 'Windows on a submarine' really isn't an issue. The Navy uses at LEAST three independent networks on their ships. Two that I was told about and one that I wasn't supposed to notice on my own. These aren't connected together, and only one of them connects to the outside world. Even if they were running a completely un-patched version of Windows 3.11 on that inner-most network, they're still as secure as they need to be.

In the case of the Navy's most important systems, they're not secured via copper but instead by steel-jacketed lead.

Re:Navy nets are segregated (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794399)

Not to mention being secured by the hull of the boat and several million pounds of water. Outside connectivity must be at a real premium aboard a nuclear sub, aside from comsat passes at periscope depth and VLF.

but.... (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794019)

Can't we just duct tape our windows???

Windows on Nuclear Submarines (4, Insightful)

Fantom42 (174630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794031)

The use of Windows on nuclear submarines is not a big deal without providing a lot more context. Is Windows being installed to perform a critical function? Is there an independent backup implemented in hardware? There remain a lot of questions to be answered before I care that Windows is installed on submarines, especially given the alarmist tone of the paper as a whole.

The article (mis?)cited even talks about how the systems being used don't "usually" get autonomous control of the weapons systems. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/16/windows_for_submarines_rollout/) That's pretty vague, but not really surprisingfor a reporter.

So, is Windows on submarines a concern? Sure it is. Quite frankly, (get out your -1 mod points) for a high risk system, one in which failure can cause loss of life on a massive scale, using Linux, or any computer system is a concern.** Luckily, if engineers are doing their jobs correctly, they know how to design these systems to prevent a software failure from causing one of these events. This almost invariably means using custom software or (better) simple hardware to implement/interlock critical functions and use regular COTS software for the rest. And yes, false indications are an example of a critical function. If the software were to indicate a missile launch, for example, I would expect a way to verify that using hardware in the procedure before moving on to the next step.

** This is because any of these systems are too big to have the kinds of quality steps needed for such a system (think TRACEABLE code coverage, testing, requirements traceability, application of coding standards and other software engineering principles, all must be traceable). Maybe if Linus Torvalds and everyone who works on the Linux kernel was hired by the DOD and held to a software quality standard, like DO-178B (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DO-178B)*** there would be a small chance of being able to use this software for a function that is required to prevent loss of life.

*** Having dug through DO-178B, it is not without its issues, either. But its a good starting point at least.

Re:Windows on Nuclear Submarines (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794175)

Not to mention there are dozens of networks at military installations, each of them seperated by an air-gap (meaning they're not connected to any others). IMO this report is mostly a scaretactic to try to make the US system look more vulnerable than it is. Most likely because there's an agenda to dismantle the whole she-bang.

Re:Windows on Nuclear Submarines (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794585)

What about vulnerabilities in communication systems that cause humans to make the error?

Access to the deep system isn't required if you compromise a system humans interact with and convince the humans they have orders to do something that they're not really supposed to do.

Social Engineering. In a well-designed secure computing system, humans tend to be the weakest link.

Re:Windows on Nuclear Submarines (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794273)

Yo dawg, I heard you like end-notes, so we put an end note in yo end note so you can reference yo sources while you reference yo sources!

Sorry, couldn't resist :-X

always look on the bright side of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794033)

well on the plus side it'd help solve some of our overpopulation problems.

Welcome! (1)

Zakias (444869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794049)

I, for one, would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new Cyber-Hacker Overlords!

It's the Silons I tell you! (1)

krunchyfrog (786414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794173)

Damn you engineers, never ever ever connect servers together with networks! Now look at what you have done! Looks like we're going to have to let our prisoners fix it.

Launch from a nuclear submarine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794329)

Launch from a nuclear submarine by a hack?. Not possible. CO, XO, weapons officer would all have to be in the loop for it to work. (circa 1995 that is, not sure about now). ex-boomer guy.

Let's start a war (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794363)

C'mon, everybody knows that if you want to start a war, start a nuclear war; the gay bar is the place to do it.

the solution is .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794657)

The solution is not to connect your Nuclear Command and Control center to the InterTUBES !!!

Babel17 (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794707)

Another vulnerability could be commanding officers learning new computer languages. Once you dig down enough in windows internals, maybe your mind starts thinking that mass blue screens and deaths are ok, and order a launch when distracted.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794725)

Seriously though, systems that can launch nukes shouldn't even have network cards in them!

[SCADA] These systems were intended to remain separate from the internet; however as organisations grew, and so did the internet, it became more cost effective to tie them together.

Nuke controlling computers should NEVER be tied to the internet.
Seriously, should they even be PCs?
I'm thinking of a hard wired electrical system that requires two people to pull a lever.
Not "CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH NUKE".

please increase our funding .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794737)

"Terrorists could remotely commandeer computers [icnnd.org] in China and use them to launch a US nuclear attack against Russia"

Seriously, if such systems exist, the designers should be locked up !

Sensationalism (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794787)

A repeat of the 2008 Mumbai attacks would hardly start a nuclear war given that 9-11 didn't. It takes a bit more than a few idiots with light weapons to escalate to that level of conflict.
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