Warship ‘not vulnerable to cyber crooks’

HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Britain’s most powerful warship is not vulnerable to a cyber attack, the Defence Secretary has insisted, after fears were raised about its use of an old version of Windows computer software.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the 280-metre, 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier that set sail for the first time on Monday, has PCs running the same operating system that was hit by a cyber attack on the NHS last month.

It found a computer in the control room was using Windows XP, a system for which Microsoft no longer supplies updates.

But Sir Michael Fallon insisted the security around the software on the aircraft carrier was “properly protected”.

He said: “It’s not the system itself, of course, that’s vulnerable, it’s the security that surrounds it.

“I want to reassure you about Queen Elizabeth, the security around its computer system is properly protected and we don’t have any vulnerability on that particular score.”

The £3bn aircraft carrier, which is set to be the nation’s future flagship, left the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland on Monday, ready to undertake her maiden sea trials over the summer.

The NHS was the victim of a “ransomware” fraud in which criminals demanded money to remove rogue software they had placed on PCs.