Engineer security

Oops – was that the red button? Nuclear near uses

Following last week’s post in which we discussed the precautions taken by Nominet to withstand nuclear attack we beginning to realise how sensible this was.

A Chatham House Report Too Close for Comfort: Cases of Near Nuclear Use and Options for Policy describes thirteen incidents of near nuclear use. It’s almost like reading the notes used in preparation for a James Bond movie with words like “failed coup”, “Kashmir standoff” and “Operation Anadyr”. A tale of espionage, conflict escalation and mistaken identity. In fact it’s nearer to Johnny English and Austin Powers than James bond with stories like the president leaving the secret launch codes in his trousers pocket when they were sent to the dry cleaners.

The worry is that in a world you would think totally foolproof the causes include faulty computer chip, technical error and exercise scenario tape causing a nuclear alert.

The Chatham House report names and shames those involved – you could easily have guessed:

country times involved in
near nuclear use
US of A 4
Russkis 6
us (ie United Kingdom) 1
India 2
Pakistan 2
Israel 1

It’s quite pleasing to note that we, the UK, have only been involved in one incident. We are obviously far more reliable than the Yanks or the Russins. Innit. You must also forgive me for lapsing into the language of Hollywood when describing some of the countries involved. I ws born when the cold war was still in full swing – “my name is Harry Palmer and I work for the government for thirty pound a week”.

All I can say is, that as someone working in the internet industry, I’m glad the network was designed to be nuclear bomb proof and that Nominet have taken precautions…

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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