Nuclear Weapons | Analysis and New Insights

An Internet of Nuclear Things: Emerging Technology and the Future of Supply Chain Security

Wyatt Hoffman and Tristan Volpe | June 2018


Emerging technologies enabled by digitization—notably additive manufacturing—are alluring for the nuclear industry as it works to lower financial costs and remedy quality-control concerns with aged production lines. While cyberphysical manufacturing technology could increase the efficiency and visibility of supply-chain operations, the steady trend toward digitization and interconnection could result in unacceptable cyber risks, ranging from the loss of sensitive proprietary information to the spread of compromised components throughout nuclear infrastructure.

By building security into this nascent digital ecosystem—an “Internet of Nuclear Things”—firms and other stakeholders could leverage data to mitigate risks with cyber security, intellectual property security, and proliferation. The same information visibility within an Internet of Nuclear Things that would create opportunities for cyberattacks could be harnessed by a range of novel innovations, not only to counter immediate cyber threats but to achieve greater oversight of complex and globally dispersed supply chains.

This paper, and its companion article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on the potential of an Internet of Nuclear Things for managing proliferation risks, were developed in part through a policy salon dinner that the Stanley Center hosted in December 2017.