Armies and navies around the world struggle with the relentless pace of technology. Apple and Google update their systems every year, while an army can take a solid decade to implement their technological plans. And to be fair, in the military, it must work every single time, and preferably work even if you run it over with a truck or blow it up, even if “it” is a sandwich. Still, Britain’s new aircraft carrier takes that to an extreme by reportedly using an operating system your grandma is intimately familiar with.
British journalists, touring the HMS Queen Elizabeth, an aircraft carrier Britain has spent nearly $4 billion on so far and which technically won’t be operational for another four years, spotted Windows XP on the ship’s computers. This would be embarrassing in the best case scenario, but the fact that Britain was a victim of the extensive Wannacry ransomware attacks immediately raised questions of how this military asset was secure.
As we said, systems need to be thoroughly tested and understood before any military uses them, and it was unlikely the ship was going to be carrying Windows 10. That said, the British military is worryingly optimistic that this won’t be a problem. It claims that since the ship isn’t connected to the civilian internet, this isn’t a concern, you know, because nobody ever misuses military computer systems, or plugs in a corrupted thumb drive, or any of a host of other ways this could potentially go horribly wrong. And to be fair, when the Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in 2004, Windows XP was the state of the art. It’s hard to update these systems. Still, Windows XP is already out of date and that’s only becoming more of an issue, especially as the Queen Elizabeth won’t even have any jets onboard until 2023. Maybe let’s look at some upgrades, guys?
(via Business Insider)