Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Opinion | Nuclear bug scare

Given how horrific a malfunction at any nuclear reactor could possibly prove, even the slightest electronic incursion should alert us to tighten cyber security

Nuclear Power Corp. of India (NPCIL) admitted on Wednesday that its “system" had been infected with some malware. This was a day after NPCIL had denied social media speculation that India’s biggest atomic reactor, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), in Tamil Nadu, had suffered a cyber attack. While it avers that “plant systems" were not affected, the incident reveals the vulnerability of our nuclear installations. Given how horrific a malfunction at any nuclear reactor could possibly prove, even the slightest electronic incursion should alert us to tighten cyber security.

In this case, a third-party multinational IT company had detected the incursion in early September and had sounded out the National Cyber Security Council. According to NPCIL, specialists of the Department of Atomic Energy who probed it found that the infected computer belonged to a user who was linked to a network used for administrative purposes. The exposed network was isolated from the “critical internal" one. The risk of a disaster, thus, was probably negligible. This is reassuring. But a thorough security audit still needs to be carried out.

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