Nuclear Plant Cyber-Breaches Spark Long Overdue Concern

Across the country, since May, nuclear power plants and other electrical infrastructure companies have been reporting they are being infiltrated by hackers.

This is not benign. Cyber-threats to our electrical grid, and especially our private nuclear reactors represent the very worst of the what the The Department of Homeland Security called “one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront.”

There are various kinds of hacking and they deserve to be delineated. Hacking of this type is not amateur work, nor is it aimed at superfluous targets, as we have seen before. The Defense Department has already said the same words that they tend to use to denote that a state actor is responsible, saying the attacks came from an “advanced persistent threat.”

The DoD is quick to assuage any immediate fears by saying that the intent seemed to be system mapping rather than delivering an actual payload of malware, but let’s examine what that means:…

Some of the most advanced tools readily available to hackers these days were developed by the NSA and CIA and have been leaked in full by nefarious groups online. These tools include worm software that can readily infect machines across networks on its own. These tools probably facilitated the spread of recent “NotPetya” hacks. The weapons targeting our power plants and making us less safe are likely a result of our own government’s cyber-weapons proliferation.

The danger of our lax cyber-security is becoming painfully obvious. President Trump issued an executive order shoring up the cyber-security of critical infrastructure and federal systems, May 11.

We must hope these defensive measures will measure up to the threats we have effectively unleashed on the world by allowing the CIA to use system insecurities rather than patch them.

Nuclear power plants are an incredible resource but Jill Stein may have been right to call them weapons of mass destruction waiting to happen. If our enemies have managed to infiltrate they key systems of our nuclear generators they may be able to deliver weaponized malware, such as a cousin of the American-made Stuxnet code, which caused a fifth of Iranian uranium centrifuges to catastrophically meltdown.

Considering our government’s relative inability to maintain updated technology many of the 99 nuclear power plants in the US could be susceptible to a true cyber attack.

Even if cyber-terrorists couldn’t manage to run a destructive program they could encrypt or even delete necessary procedures and possibly cause a meltdown. The ransom-ware that ravaged Europe in the last month is clear evidence that many very important systems across the globe are currently insecure and susceptible to at least such an attack. Even one repeat of 3 Mile Island would be disastrous, both physically and economically to the nation.

The CIA and NSA are culpable for this danger and must be held accountable.