Computer systems at South Korea's nuclear plant operator have been breached, acutely increasing the concerns about the safeguards around nuclear facilities in the politically unstable country. The news comes in the wake of cyber security fear instigated by the Sony Pictures' hacking incident.
North Korea, which was blamed for leaking private information stores in the entertainment conglomerate's systems, is also speculated to be behind South Korea nuclear plan hacking. The North and South Koreas are technically still at war with each other and the violation prompted a safety drill on Monday at nuclear plants all over the country, Reuters reported.
Thus far, although no actual blame has been placed on North Korea for the attack, the malware and code used in the South Korea hacked operator resemble the code previously used by Pyongyang.
Experts fear that the hacking incident puts South Korean security at risk. "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 would be blocked completely," said Suh Kune-yull of Seoul National University.
However, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP) and the South Korean government have revealed that only "non-critical" data has been stolen by the hackers. Under "president of the anti-nuclear reactor group", the hacker, posted information as 15 parts, including blueprints of nuclear reactors, facilities' air condition and cooling systems, a radiation exposure report, and personal data of employees.
Although designs and manuals of plant equipment owned by KHNP were put online by an unknown individual or group, the government has guaranteed that no nuclear installations, including the country's 23 atomic reactors, have been compromised by the hackers.
The exercise comes a few days after the US blamed Pyongyang for hacking Sony Pictures, which led the company to cancelling the release of a Hollywood satire "The Interview" about the fictional assassination of the secretive state's leader, Kim Jong-un.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency revealed that this is the latest in a series of such postings since 15 December.