NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS in South Korea are on high alert and preparing for a cyber attack after hackers breached systems, posting blueprints of reactors online and threating to cause a meltdown.
South Korea's nuclear plant operator said on Monday that its computer systems were hacked by an unknown individual or group, followed by a threat that people should "stay away" from three reactors unless they are closed by Christmas.
Designs and manuals of plant equipment owned by Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) were put online last week.
However, KHNP and the South Korean government said that only "non-critical" data was stolen and that there is no risk to nuclear installations, including the country's 23 atomic reactors.
KHNP said that it is conducting a series of large-scale drills at four nuclear power plants on Monday and Tuesday as it prepares for the worst.
"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," Suh Kune-yull, a Seoul National University professor who specialises in nuclear reactor design, told Reuters.
"And a compromise of nuclear reactors' safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security."
The South Korean government is investigating who might be responsible for the breach.
After the high profile Sony Picture hack last month, some are pointing the finger at North Korea, a country with which South Korea has technically been at war since their division more than 50 years ago.
At the same time, a Twitter account claiming to represent an anti-nuclear organisation based in Hawaii claimed responsibility for the power plant hack, although the identities of the culprits have yet to be confirmed. µ
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