Malicious software infected some U.N. nuclear agency computers over the past few months but no data in its network has been compromised, the agency said on Tuesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plays a central role in global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Among other politically sensitive tasks, it is investigating Iran's disputed nuclear activities.
Late last year, anti-Israeli hackers posted data online stolen from one of the IAEA's servers but the U.N. agency said no sensitive information regarding its nuclear inspections had been affected.
On Tuesday, the IAEA said some computers operated by the agency had been infected by malware during the past several months, without giving details on the possible origin.
The computers were located in common areas of the agency's headquarters in the Austrian capital, known as the Vienna International Center (VIC), where IAEA staff as well as member state officials work and meet.
“Data from a number of Vienna International Center visitors' USB drives [data memory sticks] is believed to have been compromised,” Serge Gas, director of public information, said, confirming an earlier Reuters report.
“The [IAEA] secretariat does not believe that the USB devices themselves were infected or that they could spread the malware further. No data from the IAEA network has been affected,” Gas said in an e-mail.
All necessary measures were being taken to address the situation, he said.
Last year there was an increase in suspected Iranian cyber attacks, coinciding with Tehran's deepening standoff with the West over the Iranian nuclear program.
The most worrying attack, experts said, were those on Saudi oil firm Aramco - effectively destroying tens of thousands of computers - and Qatari gas export facilities. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both regional allies of the West.