Kudankulam nuclear power plant
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant on its way to become 5th largest in the world Pictured: A policeman walks on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil NaduReuters

State-run Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCIL) has confirmed the malware attack in its system, an event that occurred last month. The officials of NPCIL admitted that malware had indeed infected its system at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP). Notably, the confirmation has come a day after KKNP officials had claimed that the systems are not being accessed anyone outside the network as they are entirely isolated in nature.

"The matter was immediately investigated by the department of atomic energy (DAE) specialists. The investigation revealed that the infected PC belonged to a user who was in the internet-connected network used for administrative purposes. This is isolated from the critical internal network. The networks are being continuously monitored."
- Atomic energy department

In a statement, the department of atomic energy said, "Identification of malware in Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited system is correct. The matter was conveyed by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) when it was noticed by them on September 4, 2019." As reported by financial daily Mint, the task of overseeing the cybersecurity issues and responding to such attacks has been given to CERT-In.

What is Malware attack and how harmful it could be?

In a simple language, malware is any piece of software that is written with the intent of damaging devices, stealing data, and generally causing havoc in the system. In the past, Criminal organizations, state actors, and even well-known businesses have been accused of deploying malware. Some of these malware grab headlines across the world due to their major impact. One of the latest Malware attacks is the WannaCry ransomware attack which created havoc among the victims. It actually entered the system and took away all the data and asked for ransom against it. Some kinds of malware include Viruses, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware.

[Representational image]Creative Commons

In the latest case with KKNP, Moreover, the department has clarified, "Investigation also confirms that the plant systems are not affected."

The development has sent alarm bells in the government as it has come at a time when India's power sector is already facing cyberattacks. The instances have become so often that 30 such attacks are being reported on a daily basis. These attacks have jumped significantly, as India is planning to ramp up its nuclear power generation from the existing 9,000 MW. Further, the central government has given in-principle approval for the construction of 25,248MW capacity nuclear reactors at Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Kowada (Andhra Pradesh), Chhaya Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Haripur (West Bengal), and Bhimpur (Madhya Pradesh).