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Saturday, June 7, 2008

What terrifies me most about nuclear power plants

They're probably running Windows Vista.

Comments (5)

Windows is (unfortunately) getting more and more pervasive as an embedded controller, even in systems where any malfunction or lockup potentially produces a risk to life and limb.

I recently rode the Italian high speed Eurostar train between Milan and Rome. Top speed was 300 km/hour on the segment between Florence and Rome. For the duration of the trip, monitors in every car and the control cab displayed the famed Windows blue screen of death.

Probably didn't haveanything to do with safety systems on the train. Maybe.

Most developers of high-high tech software would prefer to not use any commercial operating system.

Trouble is, you get your stuff in front of somebody with purchasing authority, and the first question out of their mouths is, "Does it run on Windows?

My ASUS notebook can run Windows. It doesn't, though - I prefer Debian on that little devil. Works great! Less filling!

A friend informs me that on Page 8 of the Agreement it forbids the use of Vista at nuclear sites, airplanes, etc.
we are safe...for now.

The Hatch incident, IMO, demonstrates the safe operating environment of the our nuclear capacity. For whatever reason, a very sensitive system believed something was amiss and safely and successfully shut down the system. The "cyber attack" take the Post article is taking is scare-tactics. Let's be honest: the "business network" computer was a scientific computer operating in tandem with a primary control computer. This isn't some secretary installing RealPlayer on his desktop causing a nuclear power shutdown; a synchronized computer caused the problem.

The WP makes up a supposed link between this specific monitoring system and a SCADA remote control systems used for distribution (NOT generation). Be honest -- while it makes sense to remotely control a switching station, a nuclear power plant is not remotely operated. In fact, I imagine, other places are operated FROM the plant.

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