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CYBER THREATS in a NUCLEAR WORLD

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A reexamination of nuclear security techniques is necessary due to increased cyber threats.

ISLAMABAD:

Many countries have created nuclear weapons that are far more powerful than those used against the Japanese city in the decades following 1945. However, governments have reached arms control agreements like the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1962 and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968 to address concerns about the terrible effects of these weapons. Cyber-based threats and cyber-based risks have been threatening nuclear weapons and related systems in various areas, including the financial and entertainment industries and the insurance and banking sectors. Cyber-attacks on their most critical systems pose a more significant threat to governments. Cyber-attacks on nuclear weapons and related systems, such as a delivery system, a nuclear weapon, or the Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Systems (NC3), could lead to the entire world’s destruction. Cyber-attacks can cause misleading warnings, disrupt critical communications or information access, and threaten nuclear planning and delivery systems. They could even enable exploiting forces to control a nuclear weapon.

It is difficult to believe that any systems with digital components, such as nuclear weapons, will be affected by the global digitalization and rapid evolution of cyber threats. The delivery and nuclear weapons systems are constantly upgraded, which could include adding new components or systems to their digital strategies. Digital systems could be attacked by malware during fabrication. This is often done outside of the protected foundries. There are also a variety of dependencies that can be outside of the control of defense officials but have an impact on nuclear systems. Technology is used to communicate, control, upgrade, monitor, and monitor our defense system. Many terrorist organizations are using the dark web. What happens if terrorist groups hire hackers to take complete technical control over nuclear facilities in any country with a weaker security infrastructure?

What happens if hackers gain access to highly-enriched uranium necessary to build a bomb and then hack into a secure nuclear materials storage facility? What happens if hackers take over a nuclear power plant, causing a disaster the size of Fukushima? What if hackers fake a nuclear missile attack, leading to an ill-advised retaliatory strike that kills millions? Cyber threats can affect at least three things: they can use them to compromise nuclear command systems and control systems and weaken the security of nuclear materials operations and facility operations. Or, they may demand Ransome once they have control over atomic sites.

The traditional nuclear security methods have focused on physical attacks. This includes installing ‘guns and guards’ to stop the theft of bomb-making materials and sabotage atomic plants. Also, illegal access to nuclear command and control systems and communications systems has been prevented. Although significant progress has been made in this conventional area of nuclear security, the risk of cyber-assaults is increasing. Each country is at stake, and the nuclear cyber security procedures aren’t up to par.

Even in advanced countries with nuclear power or research programs, the technical capability to manage cyber threats is shallow. Cyber security measures to counter the cyber-nuclear menace are virtually non-existent in states with new or expanding nuclear programs. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which helps and trains countries in this field, is short of cyber-security expertise.

While governments are working to mitigate these risks, cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated. From legislators to military officers to facility operators to regulators, those in charge must be alert.

Cyber-attacks on nuclear power stations could also result in large-scale radioactive material leakage, leading to radiation sickness, psycho-trauma, property destruction, and economic disruption in worst-case scenarios.

Cyber-attacks today target many computer systems used for different purposes. Although no radioactive material has been released from nuclear power plants by cyber-attacks, the patterns are alarming.

Cyberattacks can be used to disrupt the operation of nuclear sites, inflict economic damage, disgrace government and utility executives, blackmail companies, get even or simply test one’s abilities or see what happens. Cyber-attacks on other targets could also spread to nuclear power stations, causing unpredicted damage. Stuxnet’s widespread spread has proven this possibility. A successful cyber-attack against a nuclear power plant could cause massive destruction. It would also undermine trust in the state’s ability as a responsible host and the ability of the owner and operator to maintain safety and security at the facility. While cyber-attacks might be limited to a small area, radioactive material from a failing reactor can have a global impact. Cyber-attacks may be carried out by foreign governments or organizations hostile to a particular state’s government.

All potential perpetrators need to be dealt with by mechanisms that deter and combat such threats. This includes the range of motivations mentioned above.

Modern nuclear power plants depend heavily on a wide range of computers to perform various tasks. A few computers can control or monitor the reactor’s operation or its auxiliary systems. Operators and technicians supporting nuclear power plants use computer networks regularly. Sometimes, these linkages are known or unknown. If the software or hard drives are not updated or replaced, the reactor could be subject to an accident.

Hacking is more common than ever, and so are attacks on computer systems that are supposedly protected. To prevent cyberattacks, all of these concerns require proactive and robust protection. Insufficient protection could lead to severe consequences.

Artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons, and cyberspace

There are many questions and answers regarding national security, artificial intelligence (AI), and cyberspace. These questions are essential because they address critical issues such as how countries can use more powerful technology while keeping their citizens safe. Nuclear security is one of the most technical national security topics. What might the impact of cyberspace and AI on the protection of atomic systems be?

The military escalation risk associated with emerging technology will increase, particularly unintentional or accidental, and the vulnerability of nuclear command and control and communication (NC3) systems to cyberattacks. Remote sensing technology, conventional precision weapons, hypersonic weapons, and autonomous vehicles present challenges. This development could further undermine the survival of nuclear forces in states.

India’s technology is vulnerable to missile misadventure.

India launched a high-level probe into the missile that crashed into Pakistan’s Mian Channu City in Punjab province on March 9. A technical error caused the launch of an unintentional rocket on March 9, 2022. This was a potentially disastrous episode. The Pakistani Armed Forces responded calmly to an Indian missile landing near Mian Channu and did not launch any military response.

This tragedy exposed India’s severe flaws in its safety and technology systems.

This is not a Pakistani problem. The international community must demand more transparency from India. It is concerning that a nuclear-armed nation’s technology and command and controller systems are so fragile. This should be cause for concern. All nuclear states must have established safety procedures for nuclear weapons and security processes to prevent any unwanted accidents.

This missile strike shows that India’s systems may be ineffective, compromised, or both. All relevant foreign agencies must insist on India’s systems being inspected to ensure that any vulnerabilities or breaches are fixed. Because any failure by India to manage its nuclear missiles is directly detrimental to Pakistan and poses a grave threat to lives, Pakistan has the right to this information. This incident sends a clear message to India and Pakistan about nuclear-armed South Asia. This incident must be treated with the severity it deserves and not as a minor error whose investigation is hidden from the public. As nuclear rivals, both Pakistan and India should ensure that communication channels remain open to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

Cyber-attacks against nuclear plants

Kudankulam was the target of a malware attack in India’s most giant nuclear reactors. The malware not only penetrated the firewalls but also stole data and other information.

Although the attack was restricted to the plant’s administrative network and not as severe as other malware attacks like Stuxnet–the sophisticated computer worm that attacked nuclear centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz facility–it raised serious concerns regarding atomic safety measures worldwide.

Although the attack was eventually traced to a North Korean gang, the uncertainty and speculation revealed the challenges in determining the source of cyber attacks and the potential for cyber threats that could increase regional tensions.

At Natanz’s centrifuge production facility, an explosion and fire broke out at around 2 a.m. on July 2, 2020. The “Cheetahs from the Homeland” group claimed responsibility for the attack. According to Iranian officials, cyber sabotage may have caused the tragedy. A cyber-attack on a German nuclear power plant was carried out in 2014. In March 2016, cyber-attacks were also possible on Belgium’s nuclear power stations.

International Coordination

International Community Meets to Reaffirm a Common Commitment to Strengthening Nuclear Security. The third International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS 2020) was held at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna (Austria) from February 10-14, 2020.

More than 57 ministers, plus more than 2000 experts from over 130 countries and 35 international organizations, met at the IAEA headquarters to renew their commitment to nuclear security worldwide at the International Nuclear Security Conference. Participants also evaluated their efforts in ensuring atomic material and technology security. Experts stated that the goal of atomic safety was to identify and prevent terrorists from gaining access to radioactive or nuclear material or engaging in sabotage-related activities.

Participants adopted a declaration to improve global nuclear security and fight atomic terrorism. They also acknowledged that atomic security is essential for world peace and security.

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Florida woman pays $6,000 for Coronavirus and associated tests at AdventHealth.

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One day, your body starts aching. You begin to cough and can’t catch your breath. You have just returned from an overseas trip. You think you have the Coronavirus.

You do exactly what you are supposed to do. Reach out to your primary healthcare provider. The doctor tells you to go to a local hospital and get tested. So you get tested.

You are then hit with medical bills that exceed $6,000.

Sounds like a bad dream, right?

After receiving a test at AdventHealth, DeLand, a Volusia County resident, shared her medical bills with The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Due to the stigma associated with Coronavirus, the woman requested that her name be kept private. AdventHealth officials declined to comment on the newspaper’s request.

The woman said she didn’t know that testing would be so expensive. According to everything she read, she believed that the test was free. The ER visit and a series of unrelated tests she received led to a bill she is still trying to understand how to pay.

After undergoing coronavirus testing, a DeLand woman aged 23 received her initial bill from AdventHealth DeLand.

The 23-year-old DeLand woman said she felt fine after returning from Spain on March 17. After teaching English abroad, she returned to the United States after coronavirus cases began rising in Europe.

She said she had a headache and a fever the day she returned from Spain. After her fever had spiked, she called her family doctor on March 19, and they diagnosed her with a mild cough. She also began experiencing chest irritation.

AdventHealth DeLand was recommended to her. This was before coronavirus testing expanded throughout the state. The only option for testing was through the Florida Department of Health or local hospitals.

She said she was directed straight to the entrance for those who believed they might have COVID-19 when she arrived. The hospital staff performed various tests on her, including one for the flu and one for strep. A chest X-ray was also performed.

AdventHealth

The woman explained that she had only gone for the coronavirus test and that they did tests she didn’t request. They didn’t ask me questions about them or whether I wanted them. They said that they would do this, that, and this. I should have stated that I wouldn’t say I liked the other stuff. It was just something I felt had to be done.

The staff should have told her what it would cost or how much she would have to pay.

She said, “I assumed it would most likely be free because coronavirus testing was free.”

She was sent an invoice for $4,356.28 after her initial visit. She was charged for IV therapy, laboratory services, pharmacy, and emergency center fees. Because the bill did not include it, it is unclear if she was accused of coronavirus testing.

Three weeks later, she received a second bill for $1969 for ER physician services.

She said that she and her dad were frustrated. “Disbelief that coronavirus testing should be free, but it’s misleading that you go to the hospital and get tested. No one warns you or asks if it will cost you hundreds of thousands.”

AdventHealth was asked by The News-Journal why patients were receiving tests they did not request and why patients needed to be informed about the cost of the tests before they were performed. A spokesman JeffGrainger asked for the patient’s name, which The News-Journal gave him along with consent from the woman.

In the past two weeks, the newspaper made multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain additional information from AdventHealth.

According to the woman, her father tried numerous times to contact AdventHealth to inquire about her bills.

She said Wednesday that Mike, AdventHealth’s customer service director, called her twice to get me to pay the bill. “He claimed that the coronavirus charge wasn’t on my bill, even though I only requested it at the hospital. I was not given a choice about the treatment I received.”

She said she must pay $871 of the first and second bills totaling $2,840. She claimed she had Spanish health insurance through her employer. However, the policy is no longer valid in the United States.

She stated that she was asking the hospital to review the charges and remove them.

She was even more frustrated when her coronavirus testing came back three days later.

Her 56-year-old mother and her 20-year-old brother, with whom she lived with her 64-year-old father, were tested at the Florida Department of Health office in Daytona Beach. They did not have to pay for the test, and they didn’t receive additional testing.

Holly Smith, the spokeswoman of the Volusia County FDOH office, said that “when the Department of Health conducts a testing, it is part of an epidemiological investigation.” This includes taking a history. It has no additional tests or exams and is free to the patient.

The mother of the woman tested positive for the virus. Although her brother was negative for the virus, they believe he may have contracted it while studying in London. Her father was not tested for the virus.

The woman believes she is fortunate, except for AdventHealth’s bill. She was able to stay at home throughout her illness. Her fever lasted only 24 hours. After being tested, she had only a slight cough and chest irritation for 12 days.

She said, “I feel fortunate, I suppose.” “It’s a very new virus, and they don’t know why some people are more affected than others.”

Her mother, however, had worse symptoms. She had a mild fever, cough, and fatigue for four days. Her symptoms lasted longer than those of her daughters.

She stated earlier that she was more concerned about her mom’s health since she had a positive test. “Mostly, I am worried about my parents.”

She advised others to verify the cost of testing at the beginning.

“I appreciated their thoroughness, but I didn’t anticipate how much it would cost.”

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