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Chatham House: Nuke Plants Vulnerable to Cyber Attack

View of sky through a nuclear reactor's cooling tower

Chatham House has released an important study on the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants to cyberattacks.  You can find the whole report here.

Specific findings include:

  • The conventional belief that all nuclear facilities are ‘air gapped’ (isolated from the public internet) is a myth. The commercial benefits of internet connectivity mean that a number of nuclear facilities now have VPN connections installed, which facility operators are sometimes unaware of.
  • Search engines can readily identify critical infrastructure components with such connections.
  • Even where facilities are air gapped, this safeguard can be breached with nothing more than a flash drive.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities mean that equipment used at a nuclear facility risks compromise at any stage.
  • A lack of training, combined with communication breakdowns between engineers and security personnel, means that nuclear plant personnel often lack an understanding of key cyber security procedures.
  • Reactive rather than proactive approaches to cyber security contribute to the possibility that a nuclear facility might not know of a cyber attack until it is already substantially under way.

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