Customer Story: Cyber Assessment Services for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

European critical infrastructure providers, including utilities, energy, and transportation behemoths, make up the core of Airbus Protect’s client base. A successful cyber attack on these organisations can cause widespread chaos and economic losses and even endanger public safety. This makes them particularly attractive targets for threat actors across the ever-evolving cyber landscape.

The challenge

The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has long understood these risks. As the organisation scales and accelerates its operations, it knows it must continuously work to strengthen its already-robust cyber defences.

However, implementing suitable security measures requires a thorough examination of the current threat landscape. This is where Airbus Protect was able to support the NDA.

Airbus Protect’s work with the NDA

Airbus Protect and the NDA have enjoyed a fruitful, multi-year partnership. During this time, we’ve worked across different projects together to:

  • Conduct cyber risk assessments to identify IT, OT, and cloud system weaknesses.
  • Train employees on cyber awareness practices.
  • Improve baseline security against well-recognised industry security standards.

Our most recent project focused on vulnerability testing, designed to expose any ‘hidden’ weaknesses in the NDA’s systems. Although our experts are very familiar with vulnerability testing, this project was unique! It involved Boston Dynamics’ renowned ‘Spot the Dog’, an agile robotic quadruped. The NDA uses Spot to enter hazardous environments and gather data, supporting their overall decommissioning activities.

Customer Story: Cyber Assessment Services for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Watch how Airbus Protect has worked with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority across different cybersecurity projects.

For this project, Airbus Protect teams used our Cyber Simulation Services, which run on the Airbus CyberRange platform, a product by Airbus Defence and Space Cyber Programmes and also delivered by Airbus Protect. Our experts use the CyberRange to simulate organisations’ entire industrial environments across virtual and physical systems, eliminating risks to live systems. Over the project we used the CyberRange in a hybrid mode, allowing us to link to specialist equipment, which in this case was Spot.

Spot uses a Rajant Mesh wireless network, which our experts connected directly to the CyberRange. From here, they could stress test the infrastructure in a safe and cost-effective environment. As a public body, streamlining costs was a top priority for the NDA.

The results of our work speak for themselves. Our experts were able to identify cyber risk mitigations to enable financial, safety, and sustainability-related benefits, to be realised, across the enterprise.

Continual review of the changing threat landscape and mitigating actions could mean further benefits could be identified and realised with future cyber simulation training and service opportunities across the enterprise and NDA Cyber Services suppliers. This is an important consideration to all CNIs given the risks and potential consequences posed.

A strong customer relationship

Our multi-skilled, transnational expert workforce is well-versed in adapting to highly regulated customer matrices, and the NDA was no exception. Here’s the feedback we received from our customer stakeholders.

“In the latest Operating Company engagement meetings, all feedback on Airbus [Protect] was positive, and one Operating company described Airbus [Protect] as the ‘Gold Standard’….what other NDA suppliers should be aiming to be like”.

“In recent engagement meetings, Airbus [Protect] has been rated an average of 4 out of 5 by the Operating Companies with good feedback on relationships formed with Analysts and OpCo risk teams and the standard of security cases produced”.

Our Airbus Protect experts’ feedback

Airbus Protect’s transnational experts allow a unique dynamic which facilitates us in providing the best expertise to meet the requirements of client projects. Here’s what the team that worked on our most recent project with the NDA had to say about the project and our partnership:

Airbus Protect team and Spot the Dog working on the NDA project

Picture of the Airbus Protect team (Left to Right): Spot the Dog, Ben Worthy, Miguel Hernandez, Felix Engelhardt-Schott, and Vincent Martin.

What has enabled the long and successful collaboration between the NDA and Airbus Protect?

" We’ve been working with the NDA across many projects and business areas covering cyber risk topics. This variety of engagement and ability to work with stakeholders across all the operating companies, coupled with the wide cyber knowledge of our security consultants, has allowed us to become a trusted partner to the NDA. We have helped it mitigate ongoing operational cyber risks, provided strategic insight and advice on cyber risks, and delivered user training. Our input has given the NDA the confidence to trust us to deliver cyber services across its business. "

Ben Worthy, Technical Lead OT Security

What was your favourite part of the project?

" It was great to have had the opportunity to work with the NDA technical team. We learned a lot from them about drone operation in demanding environments while also supporting them by emulating and verifying scenarios in which system security could be compromised. I think our collaboration is a perfect example of how cybersecurity should be addressed dynamically and proactively by system owners. "

Miguel Hernandez, Lead Penetration Tester

" The best part was analysing complex technology in a hazardous environment and the resulting impact of potential vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities that don’t have much impact in a classic environment can be much more severe in such a setting. On top of that, it was great to work as a transnational team together with the folks from RAICo Labs and Sellafield. The technologies they are developing to operate in environments that would be too dangerous for humans are amazing "

Felix Engelhardt-Schott, Cybersecurity Penetration Tester

What did you enjoy most about this project?

" I really enjoyed working with my British and German colleagues on this project, which not only mixes cultures, but also cutting-edge technologies. You don't always get the chance to work on a robot dog "

Vincent Martin, Cybersecurity Administrator

What has enabled the long and successful collaboration between the NDA and Airbus Protect?

" Our ability to be transnational, flexible, proactive, and quickly understand and react to both planned activities and short notice regulatory requirements has been crucial. So has our proactivity, providing information and solutions before they are requested. I also attribute our success to working as ‘one team’ with the NDA across a complex stakeholder matrix. "

John Lockwood, Airbus Protect Account Manager for the NDA

We were glad to be a part of this project and once again enjoyed the pleasure of being entrusted with supporting the NDA to successfully carry out their operations. We look forward to continuing a productive partnership. 

If you want to learn more about our Cyber Simulation and Training Services, get in touch.