South Korea nuclear hack: operator says no risk to reactors

Partial blueprints, manuals from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co leaked by hackers

Computer systems at South Korea’s nuclear plant operator have been hacked, but only non-critical data has been lost and there is no risk to the safety of nuclear installations, the company and the government said on Monday.

Partial blueprints and operating manuals for some of the nuclear reactors run by Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co’s (KHNP) were leaked, with the perpetrator threatening to continue publishing data unless three facilities shut by Christmas.

The latest of the leaks, which began last week on a blog and were later posted to a Twitter account under the profile “president of anti-nuclear reactor group,” also included the claim that the KHNP network is infected with multiple viruses.

The state-run operator will run simulations on Monday and Tuesday as part of training in case of a cyber-attack, the energy ministry said.

The attacks come amid concerns that North Korea may mount cyber-attacks against industrial and social targets after accusations by the United States that Pyongyang was responsible for a devastating hacking assault on Sony Pictures.

Infiltration

South Korea’s energy ministry said it was confident that its nuclear plants could block any infiltration by cyber attackers that could compromise the safety of the reactors.

“It’s our judgement that the control system itself is designed in such a way and there is no risk whatsoever,” Chung Yang-ho, deputy energy minister told Reuters.

An official at KHNP, the nuclear plant operator that is part of state-run Korea Electric Power Corp, said the hacking appeared to be the handiwork of “elements who want to cause social unrest”.

“It is 100 per cent impossible that a hacker can stop nuclear power plants by attacking them because the control monitoring system is totally independent and closed,” the official said.

Neither Chung nor the KHNP official made any mention of North Korea.

They also said they could not verify the messages posted on Twitter.

The user, who was described in the posting as chairman of an anti-nuclear group based in Hawaii, said more documents from the nuclear operator will be posted if the reactors are not closed.

Seoul prosecutors have traced the IP used for a blog carrying the stolen documents to an online user in a southern city who has denied knowledge about the postings and claimed his user ID has been stolen.

Agencies