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New CRP: Enhancing Computer Security of Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors

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Computer security measures need to be considered and maintained during the entire small modular reactors’ lifecycle, from design to operation to decommissioning.

The IAEA is launching a research project to advance computer security for small modular reactors, further expanding its support for protecting the next generation of nuclear reactors against cyber attacks.

As interest in small modular reactors (SMRs) increases, this new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) will explore operational concepts such as autonomous, remote operations and fleet management, as well as digital technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“The innovative digital technology of advanced reactors brings new challenges in terms of nuclear safety and security,” said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security. “Adequate computer security measures should be considered and maintained during the entire lifetime of the SMRs,” she added.

This three-year project will foster cooperation and technical exchange among experts around the world, on activities that have the potential to advance the nuclear safety and security of SMRs and microreactors. It will also provide an opportunity for a network of international research institutions to assess and develop approaches, methodologies, technologies and techniques related to computer security to increase the resilience of SMRs to cyberattacks.

Following the IAEA systematic approach to identifying and developing enabling technologies for SMRs, this project is coordinated by the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, in collaboration with the Division of Nuclear Power of the Department of Nuclear Energy. 

“Artificial intelligence and other digital tools have a lot of potential to support SMR deployment and operation, but it is important that we take a holistic view and carefully consider how exactly these technologies will work in concert with one another,” said Aline des Cloizeaux, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Power. “Moving toward a model of autonomous operations with reduced human actions could be very beneficial, but it must go hand in hand with safety considerations placing robust computer security measures at the centre.”    

CRP Overall Objective

The CRP on Enhancing Computer Security of Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors has the primary objective to advance computer security for SMRs, considering safety, security, operational modes, emergency preparedness, human factors, novel technologies and methodologies.

The specific research objectives of this CRP are:  

  • Research of methodologies and techniques to assess and implement computer security of computer-based systems to support the deployment and operation of SMRs.
  • Research of defensive computer security architecture and best practices for SMRs based upon concepts of operation and to provide defense in depth against compromise in a graded approach.
  • Research and evaluation of computer security with regards to novel technologies as well as the application and adaptation of current digital technologies for SMRs.
  • Research of computer security measures and guidelines for SMRs.
  • Research of computer security tools for training, exercises and demonstrations.

How to join this CRP

Research organizations interested in joining the CRP must submit their Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. The IAEA encourages institutes to involve, to the extent possible, women researchers and young researchers in their proposals.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form on the CRP page

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