UN Watchdog: Nuclear Facilities Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

In the first ever International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World held in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano stressed that nuclear facilities around the world are vulnerable, while withstanding and facing cyber-attacks on a daily basis. The conference was attended by more than 650 experts from 92 member states of the UN.

“Reports of actual or attempted cyberattacks are now virtually a daily occurrence,” said Mr.Amano. “Last year alone, there were cases of random malware-based attacks at nuclear power plants and of such facilities being specifically targeted.”

Held and running from June 1 to June 5, the inaugural conference was organized and put together after the recent spate of cybercrimes putting cyber-security of critical infrastructure at risk. This makes vulnerable as cyber-terrorism is now a daily reality and the fundamental purpose of the conference is to bring together nations to a common forum in matters where cybersecurity and nuclear security meet. Other important issues that are and will be addressed in the conference are:

  • Computer security from a national perspective.
  • Trends in Cyberattacks and defense.
  • Computer security management in nuclear security.
  • Computer security threat analysis.
  • Computer security for Industrial Control Systems
  • Focus on Operator experience in implementing computer security.

“Staff responsible for nuclear security should know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage if systems are actually penetrated,” Mr. Amano added.

“The IAEA is doing what it can to help governments, organizations, and individuals adapt to evolving technology-driven threats from skilled cyber adversaries.”

A unifying measure in holding and repelling threats

Along with the member states, organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), The Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and others were all present to be made aware of the threats posed against nuclear facilities by cyber criminals and malicious hackers.

This follows a trend of a coming together of the international community in facing cyber-threats together. In January, Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Kaspersky Labs, one of the largest IT and consumer security providers in the world called for international cooperation in cybersecurity.

Such measures and a plea to bring together countries and organizations on an international scale is close to becoming a reality.

“I encourage all countries to make full use of the services of the IAEA. Countries should also ensure that all internationally agreed nuclear security instruments are in force and actually used,” Mr. Amano said. “I am confident that this IAEA conference will make an important contribution to strengthening nuclear security throughout the world. I wish you every success with your deliberations.”