The Information Harm Triangle (IHT) is a novel approach that aims to adapt intuitive engineering concepts to simplify defense in depth for instrumentation and control (I&C) systems at nuclear power plants. This approach combines digital harm, real-world harm, and unsafe control actions (UCAs) into a single graph named “Information Harm Triangle.” The IHT is based on the postulation that the consequences of cyberattacks targeting I&C systems can be expressed in terms of two orthogonal components: a component representing the magnitude of data harm (DH) (i.e., digital information harm) and a component representing physical information harm (PIH) (i.e., real-world harm, e.g., an inadvertent plant trip). The magnitude of the severity of the physical consequence is the aspect of risk that is of concern. The sum of these two components represents the total information harm.

The IHT intuitively informs risk-informed cybersecurity strategies that employ independent measures that either act to prevent, reduce, or mitigate DH or PIH. Another aspect of the IHT is that the DH can result in cyber-initiated UCAs that result in severe physical consequences. The orthogonality of DH and PIH provides insights into designing effective defense in depth. The IHT can also represent cyberattacks that have the potential to impede, evade, or compromise countermeasures from taking appropriate action to reduce, stop, or mitigate the harm caused by such UCAs. Cyber-initiated UCAs transform DH to PIH.