The Stack Archive

South Korean power plants to conduct cyber-attack drills following hack

Mon 22 Dec 2014

South Korea’s nuclear operator has been targeted in a cyber-attack, with hackers threatening people to “stay away” from three of the country’s nuclear reactors should they not cease operations by Christmas.

The stolen data is thought to be non-critical information, and both the company and state officials have today assured that the attacked facilities and South Korea’s 23 atomic reactors are safe.

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

“It is 100 percent impossible that a hacker can stop nuclear power plants by attacking them because the control monitoring system is totally independent and closed,” added an official from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP).

However, KHNP has said that it will be conducting a series of security drills over the next two days at four power plants to ensure they can all withstand a cyber-attack.

Following accusations by the U.S. that North Korea may be responsible for the punishing hack on Sony Pictures, concerns have mounted that Pyongyang may initiate cyber strikes against industrial and social targets in the U.S. and South Korea.

“North Korea’s ultimate goal in cyber strategy is to be able to attack national infrastructure of South Korea and the United States,” said computer science professor Kim Heung-kwang, a defector from the North.

The threat, which is yet to be verified, was posted by a Twitter user claiming responsibility for the hacks. The user, described as chair of an anti-nuclear group in Hawaii, said that if three of South Korea’s aging reactors are not shut down by Thursday, the cyber-attacks should be expected to continue.

Seoul-based prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the KHNP data leak, which included blueprints of the facilities, along with electricity records and radiation exposure estimates.

The probe has traced the IP address of a related blog displaying the leaked materials to a user in a southern city who has denied any knowledge about the hacks, and claims that the user ID has been stolen.

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