A strange and suspicious behavior of a disgruntled employee recorded in a 10-second surveillance video of a possible nuclear facility triggered a massive security training exercise that took place in Slovenia. In the aftermath of the video the simulated incidents unfolded, culminating in a malware attack on the technological systems that operate the facility.

The exercise was conducted through SNSA, the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration (SNSA) This highly interactive activity included hands-on exercises and involved important Slovenian nuclear sector players. The simulation involved actual operational technology systems, cyber-attacks by cyber-criminals from outside and physical intrusions into an imaginary nuclear facility that showed the effects of a cyber security breach of crucial operational control systems, leading in a nuclear security incident.

“Increasing awareness of the response capabilities needed to safeguard nuclear facilities from cyber attacks is among the goals of these exercises. The identification of known vulnerabilities and the evaluation of internal procedures and the improvement of cooperation between the various stakeholders involved are a few of the benefits that can be realized for the host country,” said Elena Buglova director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “The desire for exercises in computer security is increasing, and the IAEA is ready to assist the requests of countries regarding the nuclear safety.”

It was KiVA 2022 exercise was at the hands of 70 experts who represent the various stakeholders in the nuclear industry which includes nuclear facilities’ operators government bodies like The Government Information Security Office, Ministry of the Interior, national technical support organizations and also the suppliers of computers.

“The organizing team as well as the participants were very engaged. The carefully designed scenario gave everyone a first-hand experience of the interplay between security, safety and emergency preparedness in the event of an extremely sophisticated cyber security attack,” said Igor SIRC SNSA’s Director. SNSA. “Our nation’s capabilities for responding to emergencies, which are triggered by cyber security incidents that occur in nuclear facilities, were increased after these exercises,” said Igor SIRC.

The exercise was carried out by SNSA in collaboration with the IAEA along with AIT. AIT Austrian Institute of Technology which also serves as the IAEA Collaborating Centre for Information and Computer Security for Nuclear Security. It was the IAEA and AIT have developed, provided and fabricated specific operational and information technological infrastructures, parts, and systems specifically designed for the task. The nuclear power plant (NPP) simulator as well as fake facilities were created as part of the recently concluded IAEA Coordinated Project for Research (CRP) were utilized.