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Are Nuclear Weapons Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Cyber attack and Nuclear Weapon

Nuclear weapons surfaced on the globe at a very crucial time of world history, 1930s to counter the Nazi regime in World War II. Two fission bombs which were dropped on Japan, though is the only use of Nuclear Weapons till now.

The development of Nuclear Weapons can be considered as a major weapon of deterrence, given its disastrous effects which were seen in Japan. However with the growing technical and material capabilities of extremist groups such as ISIS and rouge nations, the world may be standing on the edge of a nuclear attack controlled by Cyber Warfare or Attack

The recent study conducted by academics at Chatham House revealed that Nuclear Weapons including UK’s Trident arsenals are vulnerable to cataclysmic cyber-attack, as they were developed before the advent of Cyber Warfare.

As per statement given by  Ambassador D.B. Venkatesh Varma, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament“As a responsible nuclear power, India’s nuclear doctrine continues to stress a policy of credible minimum deterrence with a posture of no-first use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states.” But can we assure that every country that today possess Nuclear Weapons is responsible enough and has a threat proof security system to protect them? Perhaps no.

This is where we stand at crossroads. Nations like North Korea has developed nuclear capability to that extent that it is now challenging US. On the other hand ISIS is badly trying to take revenge from western countries influencing intellectual crowd to join it groups. Pakistan, a state internationally defamed as “terroristan” too has nuclear capability. And last but not the least China that has known for its aggressive tendencies too has nuclear capability.

In such a situation any extremist group has a potential to manipulate data, scramble communications and dupe commanders in a myriad of ways either by hacking systems or planting malware, to provoke hostile countries to serve its own purpose. In this way virtual Cyber-attacks have the potential to plunge the world in another deadly war.

The world community has to find a solution to the threat that can have game changing consequences.  Firstly, the nations having nuclear capabilities have to upgrade their security systems. Also the weapons must be de-targeted so as to buy time to take action in event of crisis. Secondly, we must ensure that confidence building measures are been strengthened to avoid mistrust and miscommunication that can be caused by cyber-attacks.

Yes, Cyber warfare and attacks in contemporary world has the capability to be used as a weapon itself of Mass Destruction and to use weapons of Mass destruction to close its objectives.


About the author

Gurpreet Kaur

Gurpreet Kaur Sharma is a budding researcher. Before being part of The Voice of Nation, she worked as a National Policy Researcher for a public policy think-tank. A Lady Shri Ram college alumni with a Political Science degree, she is recognized for executing research activities to create public policy awareness. Her writing is majorly inspired by the socio-political aspects of the society.
Gurpreet is unprejudiced and likes to stay away from “ism”. She loves to travel, trek, read and listen to music.

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