Malware Infection Kundankulam Nuclear Plant (Download PDF)

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Nuclear installations and sites have been a prime target of both espionage and sabotage operations. Around 23 cyber incidents at nuclear facilities have been enlisted by NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative) over the last three decades.

Multitude of Threat Actors and Vectors

  • Software error
  • Espionage
  • Data theft
  • Employee attempted sabotage
  • Network intrusion
  • Spear-phishing and so forth
  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) -Parent body for running the nuclear power plants in the country.
  • ICS (Instrumentation and Control Systems) remains vulnerable to unauthorized changes to instructions, commands or alarm thresholds.
  • The control systems at KKNPP are air gapped and the cyber-attack is not possible.
  • Air gapping alone cannot fully warrant security from cyber-attacks.

India՚s Cyber Infrastructure

  • Information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) .
  • Business needs and safety and control systems.
  • Clandestine operations have opened vast opportunities for both espionage and sabotage.
  • Industrial Control Systems (ICS) remain the prime target.
  • Industrial Control Systems (ICS) control the core functions and physical processes in industrial plants.

Other ICs Functions

  • Host of monitoring
  • Supervision and control functions
  • Reactor protection systems
  • Safety features actuation systems
  • Safe shutdown systems
  • Emergency power supply and diesel generator control systems
  • Reactor control systems
  • Access control systems
  • Responsible for critical safety functions such as quick boron injection, containment spray.
  • High pressure safety injection
  • Monitor operational variables
  • Initiate a shut down if pre-defined thresholds are passed to prevent untoward incidents.

Critical Systems

  • Systems and networks associated with safety, security, emergency preparedness in a nuclear power plant along with the corresponding support system are termed as Critical Systems.
  • Designed to withstand seismic and environmental events and built with heightened defence against cyber-attacks.

Measures Needed

  • Reviewing existing security practices.
  • Addressing the lacunae (gap) .
  • Technical and forensic attribution has to be coupled with a broader approach.
  • Punitive actions against the perpetrators.
  • Deter others from undertaking such actions.

- Published/Last Modified on: March 28, 2020

Science/Technology, Defense

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