National Security

Emerging, Critical and Global. National Security Solutions from INL.

To solve some of our world’s biggest challenges, scientists must spend years collecting data, analyzing the results and testing new solutions. But what do you do when the world requires a solution right away?

When a problem has national security significance and time is critical, people turn to places like Idaho National Laboratory.

Research Highlights

INL in the News | National Security​

Frequently Asked Questions

Beginning in the 1940s, before supporting the Department of Energy, the lab’s location was home to a Department of Defense explosives test range. It supported Army and Navy ordnance, artillery testing and bombing capabilities before and after the start of World War II. Later, the laboratory’s expansive desert environment and unique infrastructure supported prototype development, testing and training for the Navy’s first nuclear powered submarine and aircraft carrier engines and operation crews.

Continuing into the mid-1980s, the laboratory was once again called to service to support a special access Army manufacturing capability that today is known throughout the defense community for its exacting specifications and high-quality products.

Energy security is national security. Protecting the nation’s energy systems including the power grid, oil and gas pipelines, and renewable technology from physical or cyberthreats is one of our most important missions. Our research keeps the lights on and the heat flowing to homes and businesses, ensures clean water is purified and delivered to cities and counties, and keeps the economy moving by protecting the networks that power the internet.

America’s prosperity, freedom and ability to advance our citizens’ wants and needs is inextricably linked to our resources and infrastructure. At INL, dedicated professionals defend these systems from cyber and physical threats, unauthorized intrusions and disruptions.

We ensure the power grid is secure, so Americans have reliable electricity in their homes, businesses and schools. We make sure pipelines are protected so that clean water, heat and fuel is easily delivered, and we ensure communication networks are guarded against threats that jeopardize the delivery of critical information and data.

Industrial control systems run the electric power grid, telecommunication technology, and even transportation hubs like airports or train stations. Our employees work in teams to study complex machines, electronic circuitry and computer code. We hire engineers, computer scientists and power grid specialists – but we also hire threat intelligence specialists, linguists and human factors experts. All these skills are necessary to protect computer-based equipment that is bought, sold and used around the world.

Many managers fail to appreciate the intense cultural, managerial and educational differences between information technology (IT) systems and operational technology (OT) systems, which we call the IT-OT gap. IT systems consist of desktops, laptops, web servers, communications networks, email, storage and backup systems used to help humans make better decisions. OT systems consist of programmable logic controllers, supervisory control and data acquisition, control logic, sensors and actuators that provide reliable electricity, consistent transportation and safe drinking water. Operational technology systems are the collection of technologies used to control and monitor industrial operations used in electric power, oil and natural gas, water and wastewater, and manufacturing sectors.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology and it brings transformational change to current long-term evolution (LTE) networks. This includes improvements to wireless devices and the infrastructure and capabilities supporting mobile broadband communication. 5G has significantly higher data speeds, lower latency, higher capacity, and will incorporate wireless communication functionality to most electronic devices including IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

For more than 20 years, INL has conducted researchtesting and training on wireless technology and systems, including wireless radios, cellphones and satellite technology. In 2019, INL launched the Wireless Security Institute to lead national research efforts to develop technology solutions to enhance 5G security. Initial security testing of 5G devices became operational at INL in 2020.

At INL, our people protect America and other global communities by working on the front lines of nuclear materials managementdetection and response training. Our employees support worldwide operations that coordinate the protection and return of nuclear materials from minimally secure, unstable locations. We are leaders in the developing and deploying detection technology that ensures our ports of entry are safe. And we use our unique facilities and expertise to train the nation’s first responders to react and recover in the event of radiological or nuclear emergency.

INL employees build the armor that stops bombs and bullets from foreign and domestic adversaries. We design innovative materials and conduct testing to ensure that projectile threats and improvised explosive devices are less effective and deadly. Our armor and infrastructure protection systems are quietly in use around the world.

INL supports a variety of efforts that aim to address supply chain security, in part by properly identifying the underlying components that make up our systems. Critical infrastructure security requires that organizations identify not only the systems on which their operations rely, but also the underlying equipment and data exchanges that allow for normal operation. Cyber Testing for Resilient Systems (CyTRICS) and Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering (CCE) are examples of INL-supported programs used by industry for testing and assessing these vulnerabilities.

Not finding what you are looking for? Please send your question to [email protected].

Idaho National Laboratory