North Korea Suspected Of Being Behind Hacking Attack On 23 South Korean Nuclear Power Stations

North Korea Suspected Of Being Behind Hacking Attack On 23 South Korean Nuclear Power Stations

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Daniel Miller, writing in the December 22, 2014, says that “North Korea is suspected of being behind a hacking attack on computers controlling 23 South Korean nuclear power stations,” sparking fear that Pyongyang already has enough nuclear network intelligence to cause a major power outage; or worse, across South Korea. Computer systems at The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Ltd. (KHNP) were successfully accessed last week — with many immediately suspecting North Korea,” Mr. Miller adds. KHNP and the South Korean government said only “non-critical” data was stolen by the hackers; and, that there was no risk to nuclear installations, including the country’s 23 nuclear reactors.” Is that assertion for public consumption?; and/or, how confident are they of that judgment?

Some experts have “voiced alarm that the controls of the nuclear reactors could be at risk,” Mr. Miller writes. KHNP has ordered two days of safety drills at the nuclear plants to ensure their safety — in the event of a successful hacking attack,” The Daily Mail reported. “This demonstrated that, if anyone is intent — with malice to infiltrate the system, it would be impossible to say with confidence — that such an effort could be blocked completely,” said Suh Kune-yull, of the Seoul National University. “And, a compromise of the nuclear reactors’ safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security,’ said Suh, who specializes in nuclear reactor design.

South Korea’s Energy Ministry said today, that it “was confident that its nuclear plants could block any infiltration by cyber attackers — that could compromise the safety of the nuclear reactors.” “It is our judgment that the control system itself — is designed in such a way; and, there is no risk whatsoever,” said Chung Yang-ho, Deputy Energy Minister in a telephone interview with Reuters. Bluster? Hubris? Over-Confident? Declarative statements like these make me nervous. I do not know, what I don’t know. But, arrogance and over-confidence can often lead to strategic, and unpleasant surprises. I hope he is right, and knows of what he speaks. “It is 100 percent impossible that a hacker can stop nuclear power plants by attacking [hacking] them, because the control monitoring system is totally independent, and closed,” Mr. Yang-ho said.

Besides potential North Korean complicity in this particular hack, The Daily Mail noted that a recent message posted on Twitter demanded that three of the South Korean nuclear plants be shut down by Tuesday; and, the alleged perpetrators asked for money in exchange for the purloined data. The originator of the Twitter ransom demand, claimed to be chairman of an anti-nuclear group based in Hawaii; and, said more documents from the nuclear operator will be posted — if the reactors aren’t closed.”

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