back to article Hurry shipmates - the black hats have hacked our fire control system

The final instalment of Blighty's Cyber Security Challenge, a ten-month process to find new talent for Blighty's infosec workforce, will conclude this afternoon. The Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass, organised by BT, and described as "a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives …

Why is this not a reality TV show ?

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Trollface

Because they are still struggling with figuring out how to make it longer than five minutes - as you know according to the unwritten law of the silver screen any hacking can be performed in maximum a dozen seconds (without ever needing to hit either "space" or "enter")...

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Re: Why is this not a reality TV show ?

The success of reality TV shows is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the contestants.

i.e. I'm a celebrity, make me eat animal genitals (or whatever it is called....)

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Coat

The reason? What the others have said plus there's apparently no babes in bikinis....or hunks in mankinis to draw the audience.

It's Friday and beer o'clock....

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Anonymous Coward

"Her two forward 6" turrets are trained on the M1's Scratchwood services"

What, nothing trained on Slough?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Her two forward 6" turrets are trained on the M1's Scratchwood services"

I was thinking more of a Thameside building a mile or so upstream that will be empty for about a month in a couple of weeks.

Failing that, a little further away on the south bank next to Vauhall Bridge.

Ready, aim, fire!

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Re: "Her two forward 6" turrets are trained on the M1's Scratchwood services"

I think Slough's expecting friendly bombs, not friendly shells.

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Re: "Her two forward 6" turrets are trained on the M1's Scratchwood services"

We'd have needed to preserve HMS Vanguard or one of the other 15-inch gunned warships to be in with a change of hitting Slough.

Though there are two guns outside the IWM, I don't think they are pointing in the right direction, let alone elevation.

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Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

In which case, anyone hacking them over the internet (or defending against such an attack) is a genius.

I understand that Scratchwood was chosen as the target to demonstrate the guns' range; of all the targets that are very close to the guns' maximum range, it was deemed the one most deserving of a few 6" shells. So the guns can't reach slough and targets in central London aren't impressive enough.

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Anonymous Coward

"[...] Scratchwood was chosen as the target to demonstrate the guns' range;[...]

Sounds like they also need drones as spotters at that range.

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Anonymous Coward

"a slightly pantomime group of cyber terrorists who have usurped access to the Second World War light cruiser HMS Belfast's gunnery control system."

Yes indeed, the concept of 1940's era electro-mechanical fire control systems being pwned remotely via the internet still has me mentally reeling ... WTF? They couldn't have come up with a more realistic scenario? OK ok ... disbelief shields UP.

The forward turrets are indeed trained on the M1 services, as an easy to recognise demonstration of the ship's wartime firepower (range).

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Anonymous Coward

Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

I thought they were electromechanical. Hacking involves smuggling in some relays with extra coils and contacts. The long cable hanging over the side might be a bit of a giveaway, though.

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Re: Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

If I've understood correctly, there's one other element to the actual fire control - the gun crew.

The fire control computer sends the elevation and training (left-right direction) to indicators in the turret (strictly the "gunhouse") . The gun crew then operate the hydraulics (or in emergencies handwheels) to move the guns up/down until they match the mark on the indicator.

So no good trying to fire the guns if the crew are all in their bunks, or at breakfast.

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Terminator

Re: Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

@Graeme Leggett

What, you've never seen "Christine" or "Maximum Overdrive"?

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Re: Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

The gun crew then operate the hydraulics (or in emergencies handwheels) to move the guns up/down until they match the mark on the indicator.

Not to say work the ammunition hoists and the rammers...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

"Not to say work the ammunition hoists and the rammers..."

The shocking thing is how many people had to work in such a confined space hauling on big lumps of metal. Being in the Navy is in some ways much better than being in the Army - until people start shooting and there is literally nowhere to run. So much nicer being on a missile cruiser or a nuclear sub where you (or some remote hacker) could take out a significant part of civilisation from a comfy chair.

And that's part of the problem. In the old days you had a significant number of people going into politics who knew what things were like at the sharp end. Since we had presidents and prime ministers who even have people to hold their mobile phones for them, things have gone downhill. A job which brings you into contact with the equivalent of privates and naval ratings should be a requirement for high office, rather than the ability to schmooze billionaires and TV presenters.

To put it another way, stuff fire control systems, how do we get to hack politicians?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

I've beenon a missile carrying warship and, as you say, everything was electromechanical- switches and relays. No chance of EMP damage, see.

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Wrong way around...

...Dr Kevin Jones, head of Airbus' cyber security research department, cited an attack last year on a German steel mill as evidence of the necessity of pro-actively defending infrastructure....

It shows the necessity of designing it bloody properly in the first place!

But I don't suppose we'll get any competitions for that.

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Facepalm

Pedantry alert...

<pedantry>

Scratchwood Services? Renamed London Gateway Services in 1999...

</pedantry>

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Anonymous Coward

they all lost....

If in the first minute of finding the intrusion, none of them went and pulled the damn cable to the outside world!!!.

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Pirate

Re: they all lost....

Wouldn't work. Damned WiFi-enabled cruisers!

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Re: they all lost....

I think it probably would work rather well. I somehow suspect that Belfast is not generating her own power.

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Mushroom

One of the 6" gun turrets is trained on London's city hall...

So the crisis is that the guns aren't firing? :)

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A neat trick if you can do it

Hacking into a Selsyn/Synchro?

You might need a boarding axe.

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Wonderful?

"the opportunity to “directly interview” with the government agencies and private sector employers"

Well, yes, a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate skills for the highest bidder. I wonder what "rankings" will be attained in this completion by the "successful" candidates who end up at GCHQ?

Lowest bidder gets the "monkeys"

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No No No

This is yet another attempt to set an anti-citizen narrative. Suddenly the ones who hack "fire control systems" are the "bad ones" instead of the ones who ordered those systems with the implicit intention of destroying things or even killing people.

Of course those people will end up working at the GCHQ or other shady organisations bent on scraping every bit of information out of ordinary citizens.

We need to set the narrative here. The GCHQ is not one of the good guys here. People who kill citizens with drone strikes are not the good guys.

There are reasons why the hacker culture has a set of rules, the hacker ethics. We need to teach those in schools as they are important as a counter weight against all those anti-democratic movements we now see in governments and corporations. I mean this used to be done in Germany. Mandatory "Informatik" classes not only gave you a glimpse into what programming is, but also what data protection means and how important it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No No No

GCHQ may or may not be the personification of digital evil, but accusing them of drone strikes is a bit off target even for a fully paid up tin foil hatter. You might want to direct your ire at the RAF.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No No No

"Suddenly the ones who hack "fire control systems" are the "bad ones"..."

Yes, yes they are. If you seriously think the weapons systems of a warship are safer under the control of hackers than the Royal Navy then you're a deluded maniac and quite possibly a dangerous anarchist, and deserve every bit of forensic scrutiny that GCHQ can throw at you. Hear that buzzing noise above your house? You wanna see helicopters??

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