South Korean Nuclear Reactors Hacked; Demands Money

kpride, March 12, 2015, 10:41 a.m.

A hacker who had posted inside information on South Korea's nuclear power plants made a fresh threat Thursday, demanding money in exchange for not handing over sensitive information to third countries.

Using an account under the name of the president of an anti-nuclear group in Hawaii, the hacker posted additional files on Twitter, which reportedly included documents concerning the country's indigenous advanced power reactor 1400.

"Need money. Only need to meet some demands... Many countries from Northern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are saying they will buy nuclear reactor information. Fear selling the entire information will undermine President Park (Geun-hye)'s efforts to export nuclear reactors," the posting said.

The hacker did not say how much money he wanted but warned that South Korea will end up losing much more if it tries to save a few hundreds of millions of dollars.  Officials from the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) said the documents released Thursday did not include any sensitive information and that they may have been obtained before the company boosted its security measures early last year that included completely cutting off its internal servers used to operate nuclear reactors from all outside access.

They earlier said they were not able to determine the nature or sensitivity of the released documents as safety protocol was blocking the downloading or opening of the files.  The latest posting marked the sixth of its kind since Dec. 15.

"Since the so-called anti-nuclear group made its fifth release of information on Dec. 23, no cyber-attack or information leak has taken place while the documents released today appear to have been obtained long before," the company said in a press release.

Until Thursday, the hacker had demanded the state-run KHNP shut down some of the country's nuclear reactors, threatening to "bring destruction" to the power plants unless the demand was met before Christmas.

Nothing happened on or after Christmas, and the KHNP insists the hacker could not have obtained any classified information as its internal server has been completely isolated since early last year.

In the latest posting, the hacker "congratulated" the KHNP for finding 7,000 viruses but claimed 9,000 more were awaiting his or her order. The information released Thursday reportedly included the transcript of a telephone conversation between President Park and the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-moon, on Jan. 1.

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