Nonproliferation
Commentary

Executive Governance Needed to Counter Threats to Nuclear Plants

in Program

As governments and industries try to understand the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats to civilian nuclear power plants, it is becoming clear that property and information are not the only assets at stake. Public confidence is also at risk.

The steady stream of news about massive hacking of government and corporate systems has stoked public anxiety over how protected we truly are in the face of a cyber adversary. Companies in many sectors of the economy are feeling pressure to showcase that they have done all they can to implement reasonable cybersecurity measures to reduce system vulnerabilities.

We are seeing an ominous trend of cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure, intended not only to inflict large losses but also to disrupt daily life and sow public discord. Hacks of the Ukrainian power grid last year caused multiple blackouts. A cyber attack on the industrial control system of a German steel mill resulted in what one report called “massive physical damage.” Cyber security experts fear that these are nascent versions of the future of warfare and terrorism.

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