The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave an inaugural international training course to help nuclear facilities protect against dangerous cyber attacks. The agency was designed to support national efforts in strengthening nuclear security, and with the ever-present threat of cyber attacks this course was doing just that.
The course, named Protecting Computer-Based Systems in Nuclear Security Regimes, ran over the course of two weeks. The IAEA developed it collaboratively with the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. It was hosted in the U.S. by the Idaho National Laboratory and designed as immersive training in computer security’s best practices.
The focus of these sessions will be raising awareness of the major threat of cyber attacks. A majority of businesses, about 58% of them, are worried about cyber attacks, but there could be potentially disastrous effects on nuclear facilities, should they be attacked.
According to Raja Adnan, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security, anyone who has a hand in nuclear security needs to have a complete and thorough understanding of their system’s vulnerabilities. This understanding includes both the prevention of potential cyber attacks and the mitigation of any attacks on the nuclear system.
“The IAEA offers a range of training courses in computer security to help ensure that governments and organizations have the necessary technical, regulatory and other tools to succeed when faced with highly skilled adversaries,” said Adnan.
The recent course gave participants the opportunity to test their know-how on mock-ups of the digital systems common in today’s nuclear facilities. These systems use technologies that support security, material accountancy and control, safe operations, and protection of sensitive information. In order to develop the mock-ups in the course, cybersecurity experts from the IAEA and the Department of Energy National Laboratories designed a learning environment with replicated equipment commonly found in nuclear facilities.
This initial course saw a total of 37 participants from 13 countries and it is the first in a planned series of similar training sessions.