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Choose the right partner to avoid the nuclear option

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

On the eve of our next Technology and Innovation Day planned for July, it’s interesting to see a common thread appearing across some key sectors. I have been talking for a long time about the changing face of security risk, the smarter use and integration of physical and electronic assets, the massive increase in cyberattacks and the importance of choosing the right integrator partner and platform.

I was reminded of this when I read last week that the number of security issues reported at the UK’s civil nuclear facilities hit a 12 year high in 2021. There were 456 security incidents, according to information obtained by the Guardian and the investigative journalism organisation Point Source. This is a 30% increase in the number reported in 2020 and more than double the number seen in 2018.

To be clear, these incidents include not only cyberattacks but physical breaches such as unauthorised people gaining unsupervised access to secure areas. In its report the Guardian quoted Dr Paul Dorfman, chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group and a former secretary of the government’s committee examining radiation risks of internal emitters (Cerrie), who said operators and the regulator needed to take action to address the rise in reported incidents.

“The higher number of security issues that we are seeing documented at nuclear facilities is extremely concerning,” he said. “These figures seem to show a relaxation in security standards when it comes to the operation and regulation of sites that have the potential to cause great human and environmental harm.”

As the UK government pushes to build six or seven new nuclear power stations of a similar size to Hinkley Point C by 2050 to reduce the country’s dependency on gas, physical and cybersecurity must be the primary consideration for plant managers.

Some of the incidents reported related to events such as loss of power, minor mechanical issues and even a fire – which necessitated a successful evacuation. In that case, the Office for Nuclear Regulation said there were “no nuclear safety issues, no injuries were sustained and there were no radiological consequences” thanks to swift action being taken.

While a less sensitive site, swift action last week also saw the Science Museum evacuate its building when an unaccompanied bag gave security staff rightful cause for concern. Having the right technology, processes and people in place ensured a rapid and effective response to the threats.

Other news that grabbed my attention last week included a report that Clearview AI Inc. has been fined £7.5 million by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), for using images of people in the UK that were collected from the Internet and social media to create a global online database of 20 billion images that could be used for training facial recognition systems. John Edwards, the UK’s Information Commissioner, said: “Clearview AI Inc… not only enables identification of those people but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service. That’s unacceptable.”

These seemingly unrelated news items all point to one, unavoidable truth: it’s more important than ever to choose the right provider for your security needs. They need the right technology, the correct accreditations and vetted personnel, technical competence but – most important of all – trustworthiness so you can rely on them to keep your people, property, and assets secure and your systems operational.

Your security partner needs to understand your business. They need to appreciate the consequences of a cyber-attack on your systems and recognise the disruption that even a minor false alarm can cause. They must acknowledge and work to limit any reputational damage, customer inconvenience and even fines that come from avoidable security breaches. Whether you are responsible for keeping a museum, a bank or a nuclear power station secure, choosing the right partner is essential!

Keep an eye out for further details of our forthcoming Technology and Innovation Day at the beginning of July in the City of London, where you can have the opportunity to meet precisely this type of provider! At this next event, we will touch on the subject of Integration, analytics and automated workflows, and show how security systems of the future can do so much more for your business. Contact info@reliancehightech.co.uk to register your interest in attending.