In the digital age, guarding against cyber attacks is just as important as guarding against physical ones. In 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission created new standards for nuclear power plants requiring tighter cyber security.
Come July 1, the new International Critical Infrastructure Security Institute will help companies meet those needs from its new home in Bedford County. The nonprofit will operate out of the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research and will provide training and analysis for nuclear power plants on cyber securitynot just in the United States but around the world.
While the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulation requires certain standards to be achieved, it does not tell companies how exactly to do so. This causes uncertainty in the energy market because companies are not sure how to invest their money in security measures. According to Bedford County Economic Development Director Traci Blido, the organization will provide on-site consulting as well as host trainings at CAER.
“In order for them to be in compliance with this new regulation, they can join as a member and get these services for cyber security,” Blido said. “In some cases they can fly out and offer advice and help come up with and manage the plans to protect the plants from cyber attacks.”
While ICISI will only add five to seven jobs to the area for now, the organization already has attracted the interest of several other companies in the industry, which now are considering relocating to Bedford. Infrashield, another nuclear cyber security company, is interested in moving to the area, CAER Director Bob Bailey said.
“By making this initiative here, all of those solution providers will know that this is where they need to go to get their product into the industry,” Bailey said. “It also increases the reputation of the area as a science and technology region.”
With BWX Technologies and Areva, the Lynchburg region already has several thousand employed in the nuclear industry.
“We think it’s a really good demonstration of how much an asset CAER is to our area,” Jud Simmons, Director of Communications for BWX Technologies, said. “Central Virginia is a hub for nuclear work. The fact that more companies are relocating here shows that.”
The Virginia Tobacco Revitalization Commission provided $40,000 in funding for the initiative, which was matched by Bedford County to help bring the organization to Bedford, according to the county’s economic development group.
“This was a great public-private partnership between CAER and Bedford County to bring the organization to CAER,” Bailey said.