Microsoft Windows for Warships OS Compromised
Article by George Norman
On 16 Jan 2009
While things are going swimmingly for Microsoft now that Windows 7 Beta 1 has been officially released to the general public, the same cannot be said for the British Ministry of Defence and their “Windows for Warships” operating system, or SMCS NG (Submarine Command System Next Generation) which was implemented earlier this month. As it turns out, the OS which is mainly based on Windows, was infected by a virus and consequently a number of MoD (Ministry of Defence) systems were shut down, none of them involving navigation systems or weaponry.

The Royal Navy issued this statement: "Since 6 Jan 09 the performance of the MOD IT systems in a number of areas was affected by a virus. Immediate action was taken to isolate the problem to stop the virus from spreading. This meant that some people were without regular IT access (i.e. email, internet). There have been no infections detected on any networks with sensitive information. A solution to prevent re-infection has been tested and implemented. The majority of systems are working normally.”

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The whole story started earlier this month when the Royal Navy decided it would be a good idea to implement a Windows-based operating system on its submarines (Triumph and Tireless) and warships (Type 23s). The whole move, which one might look at as some additional publicity for Microsoft, was meant to cut cost of up to £22 million in the next 10 years. Here is what Leader of the Ministry of Defence’s Submarine Combat System Group, Capt. Pat O’Neill had to say at the time: “This is a fantastic achievement. From speaking to operators and maintainers, I know how much they like SMCS NG. BAE Systems work is proof that we can get commercial off the shelf technology to sea quickly and support it affordably.”

Specific details are not available, but according to Sophos’ Graham Cluley, the most likely explanation is that this incident is a direct result of human error or poor security management rather than a targeted hacker attack.

Tags: MoD, Microsoft, Windows
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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