In Battlestar Galactica, William Adama expresses his disdain for networks given how easily the Cylons can exploit them thereby crippling their systems. If there are truly no networks in use, then how is DRADIS possible? How is inter-ship communication possible? How is it even possible for each ship to monitor its own status? All of these things and more would rely on networks being established, would they not?

  • 4
    They didn't buy Premium Antivirus I think
    – Marriott81
    Apr 23, 2014 at 10:00
  • 1
    @Marriott81 John McAfee would have defeated the Cylons single-handed!
    – Andres F.
    Apr 23, 2014 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


Yes, there are systems that ostensibly have to have a private network to make the ship run and display status in CIC, but each system is it's own separate, closed network.

Take the FTL drive system. There is a computer that calculates jump coordinates, a computer that controls the jump drive (these two may be the same one) and a display and key panel in the CIC. These three components are networked, but only with themselves. If the Cylons hack the communications system from outside they would not be able to access any other system from that because they are all separate.

This is why the backdoor that was in Gaius Baltar's software wasn't an issue for the Galactica. It could only operate in a fully networked environment, and because Galactica had no inter-networked systems the software wouldn't run and was never loaded into memory.

GAETA: So let me get this straight. You're saying that the Cylons found a way to use your navigation program to disable our ships?
BALTAR: Essentially, uh, yes. I think they're using the CNP to infect your ships with some kind of computer virus, which makes them susceptible to Cylon commands.
GAETA: Uh, well, you can see we do have your CNP navigation program here on Galactica, but... our computers aren't networked, so it's never been loaded into primary memory, or even test run.

  • 9
    Looks like a sensible security design for a military ship.
    – StasM
    Apr 22, 2014 at 19:44
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    @StasM If one of your primary concerns is being hacked by external threats, it certainly would make sense. When the Galactica was built the fleet may have had computers that were significantly inferior to the hardware that the Cyclons were running on, so it would make sense to separate the key systems. However, by the time the series takes place ships like the Pegasus appear to indicate that the colonials found a way to harden their systems against external attacks. It took Batlar's software opening a backdoor for the Cyclons to be able to hack into the defense systems.
    – Xantec
    Apr 22, 2014 at 20:14
  • @Xantec - Then the question is why were the Cylons only able to disable the Vipers and Raptors? Weren't there privately networked systems of each of those ships as well? How exactly were they any different from the networked systems on the larger ships? Also, I'm thinking in terms of modern-day real-world network engineering so it is a possibility that they would have much different protocols and networking devices in BSG's world that we can't compare for lack of details.
    Apr 24, 2014 at 17:52
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    @THEDOCTOR The Cyclons were able to disable the majority of the colonial fleet: Vipers, Raptors, Battlestars. In the miniseries Adama says that the Cylons took out 30 Battlestars, 1/4 the fleet, in the opening wave. Dualla also comments on the number of reported malfunctions. One report said an entire Battlestar lost power just before it came in contact with the enemy. The original Galactica CAG, flying newer MK VII Vipers, was completely disabled in a similar manner. Galactica was spared as I mentioned, because the new software was never loaded. (Added a quote to answer).
    – Xantec
    Apr 24, 2014 at 18:25

He doesn't want networked programs. They don't object to humans talking over communications systems; they just don't want to allow the Cylons to properly use their advantage in the software realm. In the networked systems on other ships, a single vulnerability let the Cylons hack and disable all Colonial systems. The Galactica only had a few isolated systems compromised, and those were manually reset.

In real life, there's no reason to believe that the Cylons would be more effective at hacking human systems than other humans, except for the exploit they wormed into the code before the attack. Adama's worry was unrealistic, but in this particular circumstance saved him.

  • "there's no reason to believe that the Cylons would be more effective at hacking human systems than other humans" Wouldn't the events of Scattered say otherwise? Apr 22, 2014 at 23:47
  • No; I was referring to real-life hacking. First of all, there's no reason that the Galactica's systems should have been accessible in such a way, never mind penetrable. How did the virus get onto the computer? Second, they'd need to be using compatible messaging protocols, so if their computer systems have evolved separately over the years there's no reason they should be able to communicate code at all. Third, most actual intrusions (as opposed to denial-of-service attacks and so on) are creative, not computational. Why would Cylons be better at those?
    – rsegal
    Apr 23, 2014 at 3:49
  • If we're going to argue real life, I'd cut your sentence short at "in real life, there's no reason to believe that the Cylons", period :P It's made quite clear in the show that Cylon "hacking" and even "networking" don't resemble anything from real life. Witness Athena's powers... Remember you're dealing with script writers, not software engineers, so "creative vs computational" is overanalyzing things.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 23, 2014 at 6:34
  • He was asking about the physical justification of a system. I think that's beyond the scope of the script.
    – rsegal
    Apr 23, 2014 at 14:37

Galactica was also older technology, so it's entirely possible many of its systems used analog control techniques. When the first cars were built you could still turn the steering wheel and have the tires responsd - there was a "mechanical network" between the two. Later that became mechanical/hydraulic. Computer have entered into such things these days to varying degrees.

I actually had the pleasure of working at General Dynamics in 1982 as a bright-eyed college student, and learned that the F-16 set a new high-water mark as a "fly by wire" jet.

To apply this to Galactica, someone above mentioned the FTL system containing computers. But it MIGHT NOT HAVE. There could have been a wire from each one of the keys on the keypad directly into a control system for the thing that possibly contained no von Neumann style stored program devices.

Computers are a great way to control things, but they're not the only way.

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