Most likely you have seen recent news stories about Russian hackers targeting U.S. nuclear power plants.
While the initial reports gained much media attention, the follow up reports quoting federal officials stressing that safety and reactor operations were not compromised received fewer headlines.
The writer focused on the initial Russian hack reports and selectively edited a quote from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to bolster the OCAA’s argument that nuclear facilities in Ontario are at risk of a cyber-attack.
Here’s the Premier’s full quote from a March 16 scrum, with what was edited out in the op-ed in italics: “Well, it’s a very serious question and our nuclear industry here in Ontario is very very strong. It is world renowned. There are very deep and prudent protections in place but it is something that obviously we are constantly asking about and making sure all precautions are being taken.”
In fact, there is no risk to the operations of nuclear power plants from a cyber-attack because the reactors and control rooms are not connected to the Internet. Nuclear power plants are some of the best protected infrastructure systems. They are designed to be disconnected from the Internet and other networks, preventing hackers from accessing plant operations or safety systems
As reported last week by Forbes, “Fortunately, while the Russians may be able to disrupt electricity transmission in general, and electricity generation from many power plants like natural gas and wind farms, they can’t hack into nuclear power plant operations. Nuclear plants are still mostly analog and not connected to the Internet. On purpose.”
In Canada, the nuclear industry is aware of the potential threat that a cyber breach poses and has developed strong security safeguards in collaboration with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency and numerous other international organizations to ensure the safe and reliable operations of its power facilities
John Barrett is President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association in Ottawa.