By @SimonCocking, review of Hacking The Bomb, Cyber Threats & Nuclear Weapons. By Dr Andrew Futter. Foreword by Lord Des Brown

Are nuclear weapons safe from cyber-attack? Could terrorists actually launch a nuclear attack through hacking? Are we standing at the edge of a major technological challenge to global nuclear order? These are among the many vital security questions addressed in Dr Andrew Futter’s ground-breaking study of this worrying and little-understood development.

Hacking the Bomb provides the first comprehensive analysis of the cyber threat to nuclear weapon systems around the world.  Dr Andrew Futter, associate professor at The University of Leicester, makes the case for caution when it comes to the way we manage the ultimate weapon.  Many of the considerable number of nuclear weapons that remain in the world today are now held on quick alert and are increasingly reliant on complex lines of digital code.  When you combine this with the growing spread of both cyber and nuclear weapons technology, the risks are evident – mixing weapons of mass disruption with weapons of mass destruction could be devasting and Andrew argues against establishing a dangerous norm of “hacking the bomb.”

This is potentially the sort of book you don’t want to read. If you cast your mind back over the last 50 years and beyond, and the number of times we, as the human race have nearly managed to completely blow ourselves up, due to physical mess ups and massive human incompetence, then the last thing we need is to now have IT related options for our own destruction. Stories of loaded, but not primed weapons of massive destruction rolling out of in-flight cargo bays are not uncommon. Nor are error messages informing us of a massive incoming Soviet nuclear strike, before realising it was just a flock of pigeons, and etc etc. You get the idea.

So then the question of our nuclear safety, now that we are in the digital age, should not leave us with any confidence that things are going to be any better. This book calmly and effectively illustrates that your worst fears are more than confirmed. If something can be hacked, why on earth would it not be hacked. We’re too big, and too diverse a global population now to not have someone do something that could wipe us all out, simply because they can…

This book is necessary, it is useful, it illustrates where the errors and the loop holes are. Will it actually save us from our selves? Who knows, but hopefully some of the more basic ways of doing so could perhaps be tightened up?

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