Global Action on Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities: Moving Beyond the Status Quo

Cyber threats to nuclear facilities are becoming more sophisticated each day, and the technical capacity to address the threat remains limited. This threat is global and undermines the security of nuclear materials and facility operations. 

Traditional nuclear security practices focus primarily on preventing physical attacks—putting in place “guns, guards, and gates” to prevent theft of materials to build a bomb or sabotage of a nuclear facility—with the assumption that nuclear facilities are air-gapped and safe from traditional cyber attacks. While physical security is of vital importance, the threat of a cyber attack is escalating as is the technical means and capabilities of malicious actors. 

All countries are vulnerable, and nuclear cybersecurity practices have not kept pace with the threat. The 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index found that many countries are ill-prepared to protect nuclear facilities against cyber attacks that could facilitate the theft of weapons-usable nuclear materials or even cause a significant radiological release like the accident at Fukushima. Much more needs to be done by governments and the private sector to effectively secure and prevent the theft of nuclear materials or sabotage of nuclear facilities. 

The paper discusses the 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index findings, identifies where gaps remain, and provides recommendations for further global action. This paper also highlights actions taken at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit and the 2016 Nuclear Industry Summit to advance the dialogue on securing nuclear materials and facilities from cyber attack.

Read the full paper here.

July 25, 2016

This paper by Michelle Nalabandian, Alexandra Van Dine, and Page Stoutland highlights steps governments can take to protect nuclear facilities from cyber threats.

Michelle Nalabandian
Michelle Nalabandian

Program Officer, Scientific and Technical Affairs

Page Stoutland, PhD
Page Stoutland, PhD

Vice President, Scientific and Technical Affairs