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Low-risk ‘worm’ removed at hacked South Korea nuclear operator

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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(Editing by Tony Munroe and Alex Richardson)


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Trump taps Mike Pompeo lieutenant as new national security adviser

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President Donald Trump has announced a new national security adviser.

The president abruptly fired John Bolton last week via tweet, and he tweeted out the announcement Wednesday morning of Robert O’Brien as a replacement.

"I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor," the president tweeted. "I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!"

O'Brien has worked alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had been considered for a dual role leading the national security council.

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Ahead of climate strike, Greta Thunberg tells US lawmakers to their faces: sorry, you’re not trying ‘hard enough’

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"Don't invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn't lead to anything."

"Please save your praise. We don't want it."

That was the blunt message 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered directly to U.S. lawmakers Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, which featured testimony from young environmentalists demanding that members of Congress treat the ecological crisis with the urgency it deserves.

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GOP consultant shreds Trump for latest rant about ‘The Hispanics’: ‘Textbook definition of racism’

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President Donald Trump this week mocked one of his Hispanic supporters during a campaign rally by claiming that he looked white and then asking him, "Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?"

In an interview with ABC News, Republican consultant Mike Madrid slammed Trump and said his remarks made it sound like he was trying to make "a distinction between Hispanics and true Americans."

Madrid added that the president seems to believe that Hispanics must renounce their heritage in order to be truly accepted as American citizens.

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