Sellafield Nuclear Facility Found Guilty of Cybersecurity Breaches


Sellafield Nuclear Waste Site’s Cybersecurity Failings and Concerns of GMB Trade Union

The UK’s Sellafield nuclear waste site has recently pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to cybersecurity failings that occurred between 2019 and 2023. This admission comes after years of concerns surrounding the site’s cyber defenses and the protection of sensitive nuclear information on its IT network.

Sellafield, which houses the world’s largest store of plutonium and has been a key site for disposing of nuclear waste generated over the years, admitted to failing in ensuring adequate protection of critical nuclear information. This revelation has raised alarms, especially after an investigative report last year uncovered that the site had been attacked by threat actors linked to the Russian and Chinese governments.

Although Sellafield claimed there had never been a successful cyberattack, the breaches may have dated back to 2015 when security experts discovered sleeper malware compromising the site’s systems. The compromised systems may have potentially led to the theft of sensitive information regarding the movement of radioactive waste and monitoring for leaks of dangerous material.

In response to these cybersecurity failings, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and security services had previously placed Sellafield under “special measures.” However, Sellafield has assured that current protections on critical systems are robust, with isolated networks preventing external breaches from affecting operational controls.

As efforts are now being made to enhance cyber resilience and prevent potential disruptions by hackers, concerns have also been raised by the GMB trade union regarding the security of Sellafield. The national secretary of the union highlighted issues such as lack of training, inadequate safety procedures, and a culture of fear and intimidation among staff.

Overall, the plea of guilt by Sellafield and the subsequent investigations highlight the importance of maintaining strong cybersecurity measures, especially in facilities handling sensitive nuclear materials.

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