SEOUL, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Seoul prosecutors have launched an investigation of a leak of non-critical data at South Korea’s nuclear power operator, the prosecutors’ office said on Sunday, as worries mount about nuclear safety and potential cyberattacks from North Korea.
An official with the prosecutors’ office confirmed media reports that they had traced the location of an IP address linked to the hacking incident and had dispatched investigators to the site.
She said she could not comment further on the case, including on whether North Korea might be behind the data leak, while an investigation was under way.
Concern over potential cyberattacks from North Korea has heightened since the hacking of Sony Corp’s movie studio, which the United States has blamed on Pyongyang. North Korea has denied the accusations and called for a joint investigation into the incident with Washington.
Pyongyang has assembled an elite cyber-army and is seeking the ability to disrupt the infrastructure of its enemies, including telecoms and energy providers, defectors from the country have said.
Diagrams of several of South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors have been posted on a Twitter account since the data leak last week, which included employees’ personal records, blueprints of nuclear plant equipment, electricity flow charts and estimates of radiation exposure among local residents. There was no evidence, however, that the nuclear control systems were hacked.
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd, operator of the nuclear plants and part of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp, said it had stepped up its monitoring and was on a heightened level of alert for cyberattacks.
“We are making utmost efforts, working closely with the government to assess the data leak at certain nuclear power plants, which adds to social unease,” the nuclear plant operator said in a statement on Sunday.
Worries about nuclear safety in South Korea, which relies on nuclear for one-third of its power and is the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power user, have mounted since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and a domestic scandal in 2012 over the supply of reactor parts with fake security certificates. (Editing by Edmund Klamann)