The South Korean Energy Minister has told the National Assembly that a newly discovered malware outbreak at one of the country's nuclear facilities is no big deal, and is not linked to a more serious breach earlier this month.
Yoon Sang-jick said in a committee hearing that investigators had found a malware "worm" in one of the nuclear power facilities run by state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), Reuters reports.
He added that the malware had probably been inadvertently introduced by a worker using an unauthorized USB device. It was not linked to a more serious hacking attack earlier in the month and has now been dealt with, he said.
Earlier in December, someone claiming to be "president of anti-nuclear reactor group" in Hawaii demanded that three of the reactors be shut down and began posting a series of files on social media. These included unclassified building schematics and blueprints, engineering manuals, and personal data on staff.
Neither of these attacks got anywhere near the reactor control systems, the Energy Minister reported, which are kept entirely separate from the general administrative network that had been successfully penetrated. But not everyone agreed.
"I doubt control systems are perfectly safe as said," Lee Jung-hyun, a Conservative politician from the majority Saenuri party, told the committee hearing.
After the first data breach, KHNP ran cyberwar drills on all of its facilities. It has also promised to add another 20 security staff and get a committee of experts from outside the company (leavened with some KHNP staff) to review its IT operations.
"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," KHNP said in a statement.
Politicians have refused to rule out that North Korea was behind the attacks, which are ongoing. Meanwhile, in February, it was reported that the South Korean government approved the development of attack code that could be used by security services against North Korea's nuclear weapons and power facilities. ®