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South Korean nuclear operator conducts drills after cyber attack

by Mark Tyson on 22 December 2014, 12:35

Tags: Sony (NYSE:SNE)

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Following a data breach and threats of further cyber-attacks, South Korea's nuclear plant operator will be conducting a series of large-scale security drills at four of its power plants on Monday and Tuesday. It is testing its ability to withstand further hack attacks, reports Reuters.

Manuals, blueprints and other documents relating to plant equipment, owned by South Korea's Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) nuclear plant operator, were posted online last week. It is thought that these documents were obtained via hacker activity focussed upon these nuclear facilities.

A Twitter account belonging to the "president of the anti-nuclear reactor group", threatened that unless three reactors were shut down by Christmas, people should "stay away" from them. KHNP and the government said that the leaked data did not undermine the safety of the nuclear reactors, as only "non-critical" data was stolen by the hackers. The data leaked so far has included the nuclear plants' air conditioning and cooling system specifications, a radiation exposure report and employees' personal information. The source of the attack was tracked to an IP address in provincial Seoul.

North Korea link?

This latest hacking news follows several days of hacking headlines dominated by Sony Pictures and North Korea. Last week, the FBI formally accused North Korea of perpetrating the Sony hack, which forced the film studio to cancel the release of the movie 'The Interview', a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean government has not said who it suspects may be behind this nuclear reactor facilities hack, as its investigation goes on. Therefore it is still not known if this attack is in any way related to the Sony Pictures incident or has any North Korean connection. However, South Korea has blamed North Korea for hacks on banks, government websites and broadcasters in the past.

"No risk whatsoever"

South Korea's energy ministry voiced his confidence in the nuclear plants to block any infiltration by cyber attackers that could compromise the safety of the reactors. "It's our judgment that the control system itself is designed in such a way and there is no risk whatsoever," asserted Chung Yang-ho, deputy energy minister.

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