Cyber Threats to Nuclear Command, Control and Communications and Nuclear Testing

in , on March 8, 2023

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This PowerPoint presentation introduces students to a fundamental tension that exists between the benefits of relying on cyber technologies to improve nuclear capabilities and the potential weapon vulnerabilities that cyber technologies introduce. It focuses on two aspects of the nuclear enterprise to illustrate this tension: modernizing nuclear command and control infrastructure by replacing outdated digital technology, and the reliance on simulations carried out via supercomputer (rather than physical tests) to certify the reliability of US nuclear warheads. Following Andrew Futter, this lecture makes the case that cyber technologies enhance the threat of espionage and spoofing by presenting new ways into the systems. As examples, it highlights the first instance of cyber espionage in 1986 and Israeli spoofing of Syrian air defense systems in 2007.

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Learning Objectives
  • Identify new challenges presented by the increased reliance on cyber technologies in the nuclear enterprise
  • Discuss the pros and cons of modernizing nuclear command and control and simulating nuclear testing with respect to how they impact the credibility of nuclear deterrence
  • Describe the types of tactics employed by cyber attackers including espionage and spoofing
  • Describe instances of cyber espionage and spoofing

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