Sounding the alarm in front of more than 650 experts from 92 member states, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the inaugural International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World sent “an important message” that the world is finally “serious about protecting nuclear and other radioactive material.”
“Reports of actual or attempted cyber attacks are now virtually a daily occurrence,” Amano affirmed, warning that the nuclear industry had not been immune from the global threat. “Last year alone, there were cases of random malware-based attacks at nuclear power plants and of such facilities being specifically targeted.”
The threat of cybercrime and cyber attacks has been steadily growing over recent years, particularly in developing countries where criminals can exploit legal loopholes and weak security measures, according to recent findings by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Conference – organized in cooperation with INTERPOL, the International Telecommunication Union, the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and International Electrotechnical Commission – which ends today, illustrates ways member states and stakeholders can better anticipate and protect themselves from cyber attacks.
In addition, member states will address a range of issues pertaining to trends in cyber attack and defense, computer security management in nuclear security, computer security threat analysis, computer security for industrial control systems and 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,” Amano continued. “The IAEA is doing what it can to help governments, organizations, and individuals adapt to evolving technology-driven threats from skilled cyber adversaries.”
At the end of May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed disappointment at the inability of member states to reach consensus on a “substantive outcome” on a non-proliferation treaty key for global nuclear disarmament.
At the conclusion of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on May 23, a UN spokesperson said the Secretary-General particularly regretted that states parties were “unable to narrow their differences on the future of nuclear disarmament or to arrive at a new collective vision on how to achieve a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”
“The Secretary-General appeals to all states to sustain the momentum they have built over the past five years, including new initiatives in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and continuing efforts to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation,” the spokesperson said. “With respect to the Middle East, the Secretary-General continues to stand ready to support efforts to promote and sustain the inclusive regional dialogue necessary to achieve this goal.”
Ban has previously lamented a reversal in progress towards new arms reduction agreements following “allegations of destabilizing violations of existing agreements.”
In addition, he has warned that the international tide of nuclear abolition – so strong in 2010 – has, in fact, ebbed leading to mounting tensions between nuclear-armed States and a return to Cold War mind sets.