Sandia LabNews

International partnership focuses on insider threats

Weeklong workshop at Sandia equips team to mitigate risk

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DETECTING THREATS — Participants in an insider threat workshop watch as a member of Sandia’s Protective Force scans a Sandia employee, playing an intruder, during one of the mock scenarios. About 45 participants representing more than 20 countries attended the weeklong workshop.
(Photo by Bret Latter)

Insider threats can take many forms. They are real, and if not identified, they can be costly and damaging.

In an event aimed at counteracting such threats, in September Sandia hosted about 45 individuals who work at nuclear and radiological sites around the world, as well as industry regulators, for a weeklong workshop. The participants represented more than 20 countries.

As part of the workshop, participants toured the Nuclear Security Technology Complex, a mock nuclear reactor site. They observed scenarios representing risks of insider threats, including situations where proper procedures and protocols were not followed. Participants then held small group discussions to identify what went wrong.

They discussed areas of improvement for the scenarios and how they might apply better practices in their own facilities.

The workshop was part of the International Atomic Energy Agency Information Circular 908 Working Group, which comprises various organizations from around the world. The U.S. and Belgium, the co-chairs of the working group, teamed up to host the event at Sandia ahead of the 2024 International Symposium on Mitigating Insider Threats, which will be held in Brussels, Belgium, March 5-7, 2024.

“This is the first Information Circular 908 workshop focused on creating a community of practice for insider threat mitigation practitioners,” said Lauren Lockett, who works in global security at Sandia. “Sandia is uniquely positioned to host events like this due to the wide variety of expertise internally and externally through partnerships and the testing and training facilities that mimic real-world nuclear facility environments.”

Before the walkthrough of the Nuclear Security Technology Complex, participants attended a series of seminars. Topics included trustworthiness and reliability of employees working in nuclear and radiological facilities, physical protection and cybersecurity. Presenters represented NNSA, Sandia, other U.S. national labs and government organizations, Belgium, Canada, Hungary and Japan.

The workshop was held to coincide with Insider Threat Awareness Month. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, insiders can pose a significant threat to nuclear or radiological security because they have more access, authority and knowledge than outsiders to bypass dedicated nuclear and radiological security elements.

“Participants have access to the tools, exercises and demonstrations presented at this workshop to facilitate discussions in their own facilities around insider threats and best practices, make assessments, and address the unique issues they may face,” Lauren said.

In an effort to boost awareness about insider threats, the Center for Development of Security Excellence has published case studies about real-life security events.

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