Fears have been raised that Britain’s largest ever warship could be vulnerable to cyber attacks after it emerged it appears to be running the outdated Microsoft Windows XP.
As HMS Queen Elizabeth left its dockyard for the first time to begin sea trials, it was revealed the £3.5billion aircraft carrier is apparently using the same software that left the NHS exposed.
Screens inside a control room on the ship, which is the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy, reportedly displayed Microsoft Windows XP – copyright 1985 to 2001.
The operating system was that which left the NHS and other organisations around the world vulnerable to a major WannaCry ransomware attack last month. It affected 300,000 computers in 150 countries.
Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, meaning it does not receive updates to protect users from new types of cyber hacks.
A computer expert warned that Windows XP could leave HMS Queen Elizabeth vulnerable to cyber attack.
“If XP is for operational use, it is extremely risky,” Alan Woodward, professor of computing at the University of Surrey told The Times.
“Why would you put an obsolete system in a new vessel that has a lifetime of decades?”
A defence source told the newspaper that some of the on-boar hardware and software “would have been good in 2004” when the carrier was designed, “but now seems rather antiquated”.