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Remarks at International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World Vienna, June 1 2015

Vienna Austria
International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am pleased to welcome you all to this IAEA International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World.

Nuclear security is a national responsibility, but the International Atomic Energy Agency, with 164 Member States, plays the central role in helping the world to act in unison against the global threat of nuclear terrorism.

Terrorists and other criminals operate international networks and could strike anywhere. So the response must also be international.

The central role of the IAEA in helping to strengthen the global nuclear security framework is recognized and valued by our Member States.

We provide guidance covering key aspects of nuclear security. We help to make borders more secure by installing radiation monitors at ports and border crossings. We help countries to improve physical protection at nuclear installations and hospitals so that radioactive material is not stolen. We provide training and equipment to law enforcement personnel, and other officials, to help them identify and intercept illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material.

This is the first time that a conference on the very important subject of computer security in the nuclear field has been held at the IAEA. I believe that this is the largest gathering of experts on this topic to date, with over 650 participants from more than 100 Member States and numerous organizations.

This conference is intended to provide a global forum for information exchange for relevant authorities, operators and others involved in computer security in the nuclear field.  

Computer security is of great importance in all sectors of industry, the economy and government. Lessons can be learned and shared between these domains.

I am very pleased to have had the cooperation of important partners in preparing this event. They include INTERPOL, the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, and the International Electrotechnical Commission.

More than a dozen other international and regional organizations are also represented, along with operators of facilities containing nuclear and other radioactive material, relevant security authorities from national governments and experts from the private sector.

Your presence here sends the important message that the international community is serious about protecting nuclear and other radioactive material – and associated activities and facilities – from malicious acts which are either computer–based, or targeted at computers.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While the origins of the computer virus can be traced back to the 1940s, the age of malicious software, or malware, started in earnest in the 1970s and 1980s.

Reports of actual or attempted cyber-attacks are now virtually a daily occurrence. The nuclear industry has not been immune. Last year alone, there were cases of random malware-based attacks at nuclear power plants, and of such facilities being specifically targeted.

Computers play an essential role in all aspects of the management and safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities, including maintaining physical protection. It is vitally important that all such systems are properly secured against malicious intrusions.

Staff responsible for nuclear security should know how to repel cyber-attacks and to limit the damage if systems are actually penetrated. The IAEA is doing what it can to help governments, organizations, and individuals adapt to evolving technology-driven threats from skilled cyber adversaries.

I am confident that, by working together and sharing experience, all of us can help to ensure computer security in the nuclear world.

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.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I said a moment ago, nuclear security is a national responsibility, but the IAEA plays the central role in ensuring effective international cooperation in this area. We have the expertise to help States establish sustainable national nuclear security regimes.

I encourage you to use the opportunity this week to talk to my colleagues in our Division of Nuclear Security to identify how we can best support you in this challenging, and constantly changing, area.

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.

Thank you.

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Last update: 26 July 2017