Nuclear Plants are in Denial About Cyber-attack Risk

Bayshore Blog Post: Financial Times

October 6, 2015

From Financial Times: “Nuclear plants worldwide warned they are in denial about risk of cyber attack”

Sam Jones reports in Financial Times that nuclear power plants around the world are harboring a “culture of denial” about the risks of cyber hacking. He cites a new report warning that many are failing to protect themselves against digital attacks.

A focus on safety and high physical security means that many nuclear facilities are blind to the risks of cyber attacks, according to the report by think-tank Chatham House, citing 50 incidents globally of which only a handful have been made public.

The findings are drawn from 18 months of research and 30 interviews with top nuclear officials at plants and in government in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, Ukraine and US .

“Cyber security is still new to many in the nuclear industry,” said Caroline Baylon, the report’s author. “They are really good at safety, and after 9/11 they’ve got really good at physical security. But they have barely grappled with cyber.”

The report cites officials who describe the industry as being “far behind” other industrial sectors when it comes to insulating themselves against digital attacks.

Ms. Baylon said a standard response from engineers and officials was to deny they were vulnerable because their systems were not connected to the internet, and so it would be very hard to compromise them. “Many people said it was simply not possible to cause a major incident like a release of ionizing radiation with a cyber attack . . . but that’s not necessarily true.”

Kirby Wadsworth

As Chief Marketing Officer at Bayshore Networks, Kirby is on a mission to educate and inspire leaders to act now to protect our industrial infrastructure - and our way of life - from cyber threats. Bringing more than two decades of executive leadership in both public enterprises and emerging startups, Kirby is a published author, keynote speaker, teacher, and frequent contributor to over 20,000 online followers.