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"Cyber" & Insider Threats Among Targets of Nuclear Security Measures

Anti-terrorist exercises are conducted at nuclear research facilities as part of IAEA efforts to fight nuclear terrorism. (Photo credit: V. Mouchkin/IAEA)

As the IAEA´s nuclear security fund grows to $33.6 million, new programmes to fight nuclear terrorism roll out. States meeting at the Agency´s 48th General Conference endorsed IAEA efforts - among them initiatives to prevent cyber terrorism and "insider threats".

In response to fears that malicious acts could be carried out by "insiders" - staff with authorized access to nuclear facilities - workshops and documents are being developed to help countries assess the threat, and guard against insider theft of nuclear material and sabotage. The IAEA is coordinating the project, which is a bilateral initiative between the USA and France.

Concerns are also growing about cyber attacks on nuclear facilities. For example, software operated control systems in a nuclear facility could be hacked or the software corrupted by staff with insider access. In response to this possible threat, the IAEA is finalizing guidelines on the Security of Information Technology Related Equipment and Software Based Controls Against Malevolent Acts.

The IAEA´s Director General report "Nuclear Security – Measures to Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism" to the 2004 General Conference, details these, and a full and extensive listing of other measures taken by the IAEA to fight nuclear terrorism. A snapshot of Dr. ElBaradei´s report includes:

  • Measures to Protect Radioactive Sources from Malicious Acts

    Nuclear security missions to Colombia and Indonesia were conducted by the IAEA early in 2004 as part of efforts to improve security of high-activity and vulnerable radioactive sources.

    Work on developing mobile equipment to allow on-site conditioning of radioactive sources is also nearing completion. Once deployed, this equipment means that disused and vulnerable sources can be safely prepared for transport to secure storage or disposal.

    Measures to Detect Malicious Nuclear Activities

    IAEA supported training for police and customs officials and other "front line" officers continues to roll out. Training courses on combating illicit trafficking of radioactive materials took place in Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.

    In 2004, 20% of all hand-held radiation detection devices tested by the IAEA´s nuclear security equipment lab did not meet required specifications. Prior to delivery to Member States they were corrected in labs or replaced.

Last update: 27 July 2017