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28 November 2012, 11:52

Hackers break into UN atomic agency

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A group of attackers broke into the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) computer systems, copied personal contact details and published them on Pastebin. In Vienna on Tuesday, an IAEA spokeswoman said that the data included the email addresses of 150 international scientists who work with the IAEA. The data apparently came from a server that was shut down some time ago amid concerns over vulnerabilities present in the system. A group with the name "Parastoo" claimed responsibility for the attack when it published the data on Pastebin last Sunday.

In its "first public message", the group has asked the scientists to support an independent investigation into Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona. This reactor has long been suspected of producing weapons-grade nuclear material. The group questions the IAEA's role concerning Israel's and other international nuclear programmes, cynically noting that the IAEA's mission to perform its "internationally fair humanitarian duties" could surely involve "stuxnetizising nuclear stuff". With this statement, the group makes reference to the Stuxnet worm that infected industrial computers, for example at Iran's Bushehr nuclear site.

The group also included a threat in its request to the scientists, promising that, should the attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists continue, further sensitive IAEA information it claims to have copied off the organisation's servers will be published on the net. The attackers said that they wouldn't hold back the data "if a western-favoured element entertains another sip of motorbike & magnetic bomb cocktail". Over the past few years, several Iranian scientists have been killed in terrorist attacks. The government in Tehran considers Israel and the US responsible for these attacks.

IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said that the data was "stolen from an old server that was shut down some time ago" and apologised for the data theft, adding that the incident is being investigated by the agency's IT experts. According to the dpa press agency, other sources in Vienna were quoted as saying that the hacker attack doesn't appear to have been carried out on behalf of a government: "It was too clumsy for that."


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