Are Indian Nuclear Facilities Cyber Secure?

Nuclear facilities are part of the critical infrastructure of India that need robust protection. The critical infrastructure protection policy of India must protect them on priority basis. Similarly, critical ICT infrastructure protection in India is required to be taken seriously.

Malware writers have been increasingly targeting critical infrastructures world over. Their latest targets seem to be nuclear installations and facilities. Stuxnet is a classic example of this Malware attack upon nuclear facilities.

The addition of Duqu Malware into the league is a hint where cyber crimes and cyber attacks game is going. India is presently investigating the Duqu Malware. While the task has not been accomplished yet news about possible cyber attack against India’s lone uranium enrichment facility at Rattehalli, near Mysore, has surfaced.

According to the news, the facility may become the target of the gravest act of cyber war against India to date, attacking no less than its strategic nuclear programme. The sources said computers at the Rattehalli facility, euphemistically called Rare Materials Plant (RMP), were possibly infected by the deadly Stuxnet, or a Stuxnet-derived Malware, as a precursor to an attack to destroy thousands of centrifuges installed there.

This situation has once again reiterated the need for India to develop cyber warfare capabilities. In the past, similar attacks on Iran’s Natanz enrichment plant destroyed over 1,000 centrifuges and set its alleged nuclear bomb programme back at least 12-18 months.

An official response from Indian authorities in this regard is still awaited. But one thing is for sure that India is still not yet ready for the new Malware game that is producing serious cyber threats in the form of Stuxnet, Duqu, etc.