A hack could lead to false information being passed to decision makers during a crisis, the think tank, Chatham House, based in London, said in a new report.
The report concludes: "At best, cyber insecurity in nuclear weapons systems is likely to undermine trust and confidence in military capabilities and in the nuclear weapons infrastructure".
They go on to say: "It is the responsibility of nuclear weapons states to incorporate cyber risk reduction measures in nuclear command, control and communication systems", going on to say that it would be the public who would "pay the ultimate price for complacency regarding cybersecurity of nuclear weapons systems".
Leaving nuclear weapons systems vulnerable to cyber criminals could have risky consequences, including them possibly setting off the weapon during a time of crisis through data manipulation.
Nuclear weapons systems are under threat from criminal groups, hostile states and terrorist organisations exploiting cyber vulnerabities, according to the report. It included neutralising communications - sowing doubt in the minds of world leaders and commanders ahead of a strike, attacking telemetry data to affect where missiles strike, and sabotaging "pre-launch targeting information".
They said: "There are a number of vulnerabilities and pathways through which a malicious actor may infiltrate a nuclear weapons system without a state's knowledge".
The report suggests the likelihood of attempted cyber attacks on nuclear weapons systems is "relatively high", and cites information that the United States may have infiltrated parts of North Korea's missile systems previous year and caused test failures. "Moreover, a system, that is compromised can not be trusted in decision-making". "Human error, systems failures, design vulnerabilities and susceptibilities within the supply chain all represent common security issues in nuclear weapons systems".
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The plan breaks with the previous administration's goal of reducing nuclear weapons in USA defense strategy.
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While the researchers do not claim that emerging technologies are the primary risk to consider in the nuclear field, they argue that although key risk areas have existed for a long time, new technology has exacerbated these risks.
This could "infect digital components of a system at any time", which the think-tank said could lead to countries launching nuclear weapons by accident.
Trump reportedly responded to a chart about the reduction in USA nuclear weapons since the Cold War by hoping for a ten-fold increase in the stockpile, though he called the reporting from NBC "pure fiction". "Academia and civil society should be encouraged to bring this issue to the attention of their government".