In 2014, the Nuclear Energy Institute–an industry trade association–sought to limit the scope of cyber protection safeguards prescribed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The institute’s proposal, long under consideration by the NRC, was to make the job of power plant operators less burdensome while providing adequate protection. Now a science advocacy group is working to have that request rejected.
The news comes a day after the Department of Homeland Security issued a report pointing the finger at Russia for a series of cyberattacks aimed at nuclear power plants and water and electric systems in the US and Europe.
Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Reuters that the Institute’s petition to limit the NRC’s safeguards is “foolhardy at best and, at worse, downright dangerous.” He added, “In light of the growing cyber threat to nuclear plants highlighted by yesterday’s alert, the agency should now simply reject it.”
As Reuters reports, many of the systems that control the most critical safety equipment at nuclear power plants are analog, and therefore not vulnerable to cyber attacks. However, Lyman told Reuters that other systems, which are internet connected, could be compromised.
Reuters reports, according to the science advisory group, that “Hackers could disable or reprogram systems including electronic locks, alarms, closed-circuit television cameras, and communications equipment. Some plants have equipment, such as cranes that move highly radioactive spent fuel, that use network-based systems that could be manipulated to cause an accident.”
Get the full story at Reuters.