South Korean authorities have found evidence that a low-risk computer “worm” had been removed from devices connected to some nuclear plant control systems, but no harmful virus was found in reactor controls threatened by a hacker.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd said it would beef up cyber security by hiring more IT security experts and forming an oversight committee, as it came in for fresh criticism from lawmakers following recent hacks against its headquarters.
The nuclear operator, part of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp, said earlier this month that non-critical data had been stolen from its systems, while a hacker threatened in Twitter messages to close three reactors.
The control systems of the two complexes housing those reactors had not been exposed to any malignant virus, Seoul’s energy ministry and nuclear watchdog said in a joint statement on Tuesday, adding the systems were inaccessible from external networks.
Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick told a parliamentary session that evidence of the presence and removal of a “worm” – which the ministry said was probably inadvertently introduced by workers using unauthorized USB devices – was unrelated to the recent hacking incidents, drawing scepticism from some lawmakers.
“I doubt control systems are perfectly safe as said,” Lee Jung-hyun, a lawmaker in the ruling Saenuri party, told the committee hearing.
Worries about nuclear safety in South Korea, which relies on nuclear reactors for a third of its power and is the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power user, have mounted since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and a domestic scandal in 2012 over the supply of reactor parts with fake security certificates.
“We will prepare fundamental improvement measures by enhancing nuclear power’s safe operation and hiking information security systems to the highest level following this cyber attack case,” Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power said in a statement.
Seoul prosecutors have not ruled out possible involvement of North Korea in the cyber attack on the nuclear operator, which Pyongyang has denied.
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power President and CEO Cho Seok told the hearing that all control systems of the country’s 23 nuclear reactors were safe against malignant codes. On Sunday, he said that cyber attacks on non-critical operations at the company’s headquarters were continuing, although he did not elaborate for security reasons.
The nuclear plant operator said on Tuesday it was increasing the number of staff devoted to cyber security from 53 to around 70, and would set up a committee of internal and external experts to oversee security.
Chun Soon-ok of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy party said: “The government’s nuclear power policies have lost people’s trust and whatever broke out only makes people concerned more.”
(Editing by Tony Munroe and Alex Richardson)
Georgia judge strikes down attempt to purge 14K voters in largely Black county
A Georgia judge on Monday halted an attempt to purge 14,000 voters from a county with a large Black population.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Fulton County Superior Court Jane Barwick dismissed a request from citizens that the county be forced to hold hearings on the status of 14,000 voters.
According to attorney Ray Smith, who represents the group of citizens, many of the voters in the county do not live at the address where they are registered. Smith claimed to have boxes of affidavits from registered voters.
Trump’s tax rhetoric comes back to haunt him after NYT’s bombshell report: analysis
In an analysis for the Washington Post this Monday, Aaron Blake writes that while the New York Times' bombshell report on President Trump's tax history answers a lot of questions, it's still less than surprising. After all, Trump once said during a previous presidential debate that paying low income taxes makes him a "smart" businessman.
Trump has made similar comments on other occasions. "Trump has at times tried to argue that however much he might exploit the tax system, it merely shows how broken the system is," Blake writes. "Whether that’s an argument voters buy after the Times’s report shows just how much Trump has sought to exploit that system, we’ll have to see."
New revelations in leaked Trump campaign documents show Brad Parscale lied to Congress
Associate professor of media design David Carrell walked through transcripts of Congressional interviews with former digital director turned ex-campaign manager Brad Parscale.
"The Cambridge Analytica saga breaks wide open again," he tweeted on Monday. "The proof is finally being revealed. We always knew the truth was right there in the data.
He cited Channel 4 News which cited a Trump campaign data leak, exposing how 3.5 million Black Americans were listed as "Deterrence" in an effort to get them to not vote.