Thursday, 8 October 2015

Global Nuclear facilities 'At Risk' of Cyber-Attack

Iran

Cyber-Attacks on Nuclear Power Plants on the Rise


According to a report, the danger of serious cyber-attack on nuclear power plants across the globe is on the rise. It has stated that civil nuclear infrastructure in several nations are not well equipped to defend against such outbreak.

 The report had mentioned that most of the control systems for the organization were insecure by design due to their age. Circulated by the influential Chatham House committee, the report considered cyber defences in power plants across the world over an 18 month period. It stated that cyber criminals, state sponsored hackers as well as terrorists were increasing their online activity which would mean that the risk of a significant net based attack would prevail.

 This kind of attack on nuclear plant though on small scale or unlikely, should be taken seriously due to the harm which would follow if radiation was released. Besides, it is said that even a small scale cyber security instance at a nuclear facility would lead to a disproportionate effect on public opinion as well as the future of the civil nuclear industry.

Research, unfortunately carried out for the study indicated that the UK’s nuclear plants and the related organization did not seem to be adequately protected or prepared due to the industry being converted to digital systems recently.

Increase in Digitisation/Growing Reliance on Commercial Software


Increase in digitisation and growing reliance on commercial software is giving rise to the risk that the nuclear industry tends to face. There seems to be a `pervading myth’ that computer systems in power plants were isolated from the internet due to which, they were immune to the type of cyber-attacks which has evaded other industries.This air gap between the public Internets and nuclear system seems easy to breach with `nothing more than a flash drive’.

It observed that the destructive Stuxnet computer virus infected Iran’s nuclear facilities through this route. The researcher also came across virtual networks together with other links to the public internet on nuclear structure networks.

Some of these seemed to be unknown or forgotten, by those in charge of these organisations. Search engines which had hunted out critical structures had indexed these links making it easy for attackers to locate ways in to networks as well as control systems

Security with Cyber Security – Priority for Power Station Operators


According to chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Keith Parker, he states that `security inclusive of cyber security is an absolute priority for power station operators. All of Britain’s power stations are designed with safety in mind and are stress tested to withstand a huge range of potential incidents. Power station operators tend to work closely with national agencies like the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and other intelligence agencies, to be aware of emerging threats always’.

He added that the industry’s regulator continuously monitors plant safety to protect it from any outside threats.The first international conference with regards to cyber threats facing plants and manufacturing facilities was held in June this year by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

 Yukiya Amano, director of the IAEA had informed during the conference, that both random as well as targeted attacks were directed at nuclear plants. In a keynote address to the conference he commented that `staff responsible for nuclear security needs to know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage should the system be penetrated.

No comments:

Post a comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.