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British Royal Navy's Communications Network Hit by Virus

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that it was attacked by computer virus which shut down some of the MoD computers, particularly the administrative networks aboard Royal Navy war vessels.

The compromised computing systems of the Royal Navy include the NavyStar (N*) system based on a server cabinet and cable-networked machines on every warship. These systems are utilized for storekeeping, messaging and other similar backup jobs. The internet of the N* warship links to larger networks via shore connection whenever ships are at port and utilizes satellite communication while sailing. The communication system is provided by Fujitsu.

Various MoD machines and N* nets aboard naval fleets such as Ark Royal, the aircraft carrier, have also suffered from N* breakdown during the past two weeks due to the virus attack. The greatest loss is the breakdown of electronic mail service, which for navy men has become a mean to remain in contact with their family and friends.

On January 15, 2009, when the HMS Ark Royal sailed out of Portsmouth to Liverpool, the system was still down. The trouble was supposedly began in the second week of January; however, the MoD would not confirm the exact time span of the problem. Prompt action was taken to isolate the compromised systems, and virus-cleansing measures start immediately to safeguard against further attacks.

At present, the warship which is operational around Britain is completely equipped to tackle all functional tasking. The crewmen were also able to sue "welfare phone systems" to keep in touch with their relatives, but refrain from mentioning reports stating 75% of the carrier was affected.

Warplanes kept on taking off from Royal Air Force stations such as Lyneham, with flight plans designed on back up telecom system. Furthermore, intelligence specialists allege the virus was exceptionally hard to remove.

MoD said that none of the command or operating systems was affected, although several of them were founded on similar computer hardware. MoD spokespersons also said that there is no secret or private information at risk due to pre-existing stringent safety measures.

Related article: British Telecommunications Introduces New anti-spam System

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