Virus hits the Royal Navy and RAF
16 January 2009
A computer virus has attacked the Royal Navy's computer systems just days after defence ministers attempted to reassure the public about the safety of the MoD's IT systems despite the fact that nearly 75 per cent of all systems were not adequately protected.
The virus is believed to have taken down the Fleet's internet. At the moment the HMS Ark Royal is the only confirmed ship to be affected, but it has been alleged that up to 75 per cent of the fleet is "in the dark."
MoD officials denied that the virus had hit navigational and weapons systems, but confirmed that ships had been without internet since last week, calling it a "minor blip."
HMS Ark Royal was at sea for part of the crisis, which has forced commanders and sailors to use phone systems to communicate with mainland Britain. Personal mobile phones were also being used to relay communications and orders.
"Action was immediately taken to isolate the infected systems and commence virus-cleansing procedures to protect from re-infection," a spokesperson said.
"The ship [HMS Ark Royal], which is operating around the UK, is fully capable of undertaking all operational tasking."
But crewmembers onboard the aircraft carrier had a different perspective.
"'It has been utter chaos," a sailor told the Portsmouth News.
"They have let us use our phones but there are dozens of jobs which need the internet, and what about those people who are away on deployment?
"There are also cadets who joined the ship to head to Liverpool, and because they couldn't get e-mails they couldn't check how many people were coming on board."
The virus may have already spread onto land it has emerged. ITV News has reported that several RAF bases including RAF Brize Norton and RAF Lyneham are without the internet or e-mail.
Flight plans have had to be loaded onto backup systems. However planes have continued their flight missions as normal this week.
MP Mike Hancock who sits on the Defence Select Committee questioned how a system that was so complex and expensive could be brought to its knees so quickly.
News of the virus comes just days after it emerged that the MoD had only upgraded 27 per cent of its IT systems to the new Cabinet Office standard. Ministers argued that the remaining computer systems were either in the process of being upgraded or being kept from completing certain sensitive operations.
The Ark Royal is not at sea, she's in Liverpool, so much for Public Service Information!
The FAAA Webmaster - Fleet Air Arm Association
Yes it is in Liverpool now. Our mistake. But numerous sources have confirmed that it sailed from Portsmouth during the period when the internet was down.