The largest the aircraft carrier ever built by the UK’s Royal Navy, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, may be hitting the seas with ancient software: Windows XP.
At least that’s the claim from the Guardian and the Times of the UK. During a tour of the massive ship, reporters claim to have viewed computer screens on the ship running Windows XP, an operating system first released in 2001. That claim is setting off alarm bells for many given the recent hacking attack on the UK’s National Health Service, which was largely given traction due to the use of outdated operating systems being in the hospital system.
The apparent revelation is even more surprising considering the whopping $4.5 billion cost of the ship. Construction of the ship began back in 2009, but the ship just made its first public test trip on Monday.
And while fears of the UK’s most powerful aircraft carrier being vulnerable to attack may be gripping some who are still reeling from the hack attacks earlier this year, Royal Navy officials don’t appear to be concerned.
"The ship is well designed and there has been a very, very stringent procurement train that has ensured we are less susceptible to cyber than most," Mark Deller, commander air on the Queen Elizabeth, told the Guardian.
"When you buy a ship, you don’t buy it today, you bought it 20 years ago. So what we put on the shelf and in the spec is probably what was good then. The reality is, we are always designed with spare capacity, so we will always have the ability to modify and upgrade. So whatever you see in the pictures, I think you will probably find we will be upgrading to whatever we want to have in due course. It might have already happened but I can’t tell you."
Image: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Commanding Officer Captain Jerry Kyd onboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier at Rosyth Dockyard on June 21, 2017.
The good news is that any fears regarding the HMS Queen Elizabeth and WannaCry have been put to rest thanks to a patch released by Microsoft back in May. Nevertheless, if the enormous ship does hit the seas running Windows XP, it’s difficult not to imagine that some new threat targeting the outdated operating system might crop up.
The Royal Navy plans to put the HMS Queen Elizabeth into full operation by the end of this year.