(Reuters) – Computer systems at South Korea’s nuclear plant operator have been hacked, the company said on Monday, sharply raising concerns about safeguards around nuclear facilities in a country that remains technically at war with NorthKorea.
The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP) and the government said only “non-critical” data was stolen by the hackers, and that there was no risk to nuclear installations, including the country’s 23 atomic reactors.
But the hacking was reported as the United States accused North Korea of a devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
Experts voiced alarm that the controls of the nuclear reactors could be 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.
“And a compromise of nuclear reactors’ safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security,” said Suh, who specializes in nuclear reactor design.
The government is investigating but has not said who might be responsible. In 2013, South Korea accused the North of a series of cyberattacks on banks and broadcasters. Anti-nuclear activists in South Korea have also protested against the use of nuclear power.