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South Korea steps up cyber security at nuclear plants

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South Korea boosted cyber security at the country’s nuclear power plants on Tuesday following what President Park Geun-hye described as a series “grave” data leaks, and prosecutors said they were investigating a new online threat.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP), which runs South Korea’s 23 nuclear power reactors, said on Monday its computer systems had been hacked, raising alarm in a country that is still technically at war with North Korea.

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Park ordered inspections of safeguards at national infrastructure facilities, including nuclear power plants, against what she called “cyber terrorism”.

A government official said authorities had raised the cyber crisis alert by one level for all the state-run companies to “caution” from “attention”.

The nuclear operator, part of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp, said only non-critical data had been stolen and operations of the nuclear plants were not at risk. South Korea’s law enforcement authorities are investigating the leaks.

“Nuclear power plants are first-class security installations that directly impact the safety of the people,” Park said at a cabinet meeting, according to her office.

“A grave situation that is unacceptable has developed when there should have been not a trace of lapse as a matter of national security,” she said.

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Within hours of Park’s comments, an online user who claimed to have hacked the nuclear operator posted a new threat and a fresh batch of data on the same Twitter account that was used for previous threats and leaks.

“We are now looking at it … We believe it was done by the same user,” an official at South Korean prosecutors’ office investigating the leaks told Reuters by telephone.

An official at the nuclear operator said it was working to verify whether the data had been taken from its computers.

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Earlier, the investigation team official said Seoul had not ruled out the possibility that North Korea was involved in the cyberattack, although Park did not make any mention of it.

The official added that South Korea had requested Washington’s help investigating the matter.

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In recent years South Korea has accused the North of a carrying out several cyberattacks on its banks and broadcasters.

The incident at the nuclear operator came after the United States accused North Korea of a serious cyberattack on Sony Pictures and vowed to respond proportionately.

Anti-nuclear activists in South Korea have also protested against the use of nuclear power.

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(Editing by Paul Tait and Jeremy Laurence)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

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In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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