Physical and Cyber Security


Physical Security for the Existing Fleet

Existing large light water reactors maintain robust protections to ensure safe, secure, and reliable operation. Evolving threats and improvements in detection, delay, and response technologies provide opportunities to improve security effectiveness and efficiency. The U.S. DOE NE Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program provides research and development support for advanced technologies, risk-informed approaches, and re-evaluation of the physical security posture when needed.

Sandia supports the sustainability of the existing fleet through researching the application of new technologies like Remote Operated Weapons Systems (ROWS) and the Deliberate Motion Algorithm for enhanced detection, risk informed security, cutting edge technologies and materials for improved delay, and the integration with advanced cybersecurity technologies. As a leader in physical protection for our country’s nuclear assets, Sandia has a wide array of capabilities in the physical security and threat reduction space that can be utilized in protecting our existing nuclear energy systems.

Physical Security for Advanced Reactors

The next generation of nuclear reactors are likely to be smaller, modular, and may incorporate different types of fuels and coolants. There has been a surge of interest in these new designs driven by private and venture capital. Physical security is a key challenge for these small reactors since they need to maintain smaller protective forces in order to remain economically competitive with other sources of energy. The U.S. DOE NE Advanced Reactor Safeguards Program provides research and development support to address new physical protection approaches.

Sandia is developing recommendations for alternative physical protection approaches for the various classes of advanced reactors. This research includes demonstration of advanced technologies, evaluation of on-site versus off-site response forces, examination of sabotage targets for new reactor designs, and efficient response force tactics. The work progresses in manner that is consistent and informs new NRC rulemaking related to physical protection. Sandia leverages its vast experience in the nuclear safety and cybersecurity areas to help develop integrated solutions.

Learn more about Sandia’s Nuclear Security Technology Complex including training, demonstrations, and testing and evaluation.

Learn more about Sandia’s physical protection tools: Scribe3D, PathTrace, and PREP.

For more information, contact the Physical Security R&D Pathway Lead

Douglas M. Osborn

(505) 844-1127

For more information, contact the Advanced Reactor Safeguards National Technical Director

Ben Cipiti

(505) 284-8757

Nuclear Energy Cyber Security

Sandia provides a full spectrum of cyber and physical security research and analysis capabilities to protect energy critical infrastructures. Our broad experience includes:

  • Deep knowledge of computer, network, and other electronics hardware and software
  • Threat modeling
  • Cyber/physical event characterization
  • Digital event replication
  • System and plant impact modeling
  • Consequence evaluation useful to deconstruct complex threats and manage risks
  • Industrial Control System (ICS) malware functional and impact analysis
  • HAZCADS approach to system hazards: Combination of aspects of traditional probabilistic risk assessment and Systems Theoretical Process Analysis (STPA) for understanding security risks at nuclear facilities

Sandia provides deep analysis resulting in practical, cost-effective steps to provide cybersecurity to high-consequence energy systems.

Learn more about Sandia’s cyber security for the electric grid.

Work with Us

We partner with large and small businesses, universities, and government agencies. With multiple agreement types to select from, partners can access world-class science, engineering, experts, and infrastructure.


To contact a member of the Nuclear Energy team at Sandia, please email