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Cyber attacks threaten South Korean nuclear safety

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Subject

Cyber security in South Korea's civil nuclear power sector.

Significance

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) became the victim of sustained cyber attacks beginning in early December, and admitted on December 30 that the intrusions were still underway. President Park Geun-hye on December 23 called the attacks a grave matter for national security. KHNP and the South Korean government now face strong pressure to close down the cyber attacks, bring the perpetrators to justice and offer a public accounting of how the breaches could have occurred.

Impacts

  • North Korea has not been blamed, but will feature in policy discussion nevertheless.
  • That the attacks happened so soon after those on Sony Pictures is a coincidence, but will magnify the impact.
  • The attacks will feed public perceptions that nuclear power is dangerous, emboldening anti-nuclear activists.
  • The company's and government's responses will feed perceptions that lax regulation and lack of transparency are pervasive in South Korea.
  • The United States, China, Japan and some EU countries will become more directly involved in Korean cyber issues.
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