South Korea – Hacker requests money for data on nuclear plants

Pierluigi Paganini March 18, 2015

Hacker who posted online information on Nuclear Plants in South Korea demands money for not selling other sensitive information to other governments.

The Government of Seoul has issued a report blaming North Korea for cyber attacks against computers at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), a subsidiary of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) that operates 23 nuclear reactors and many hydroelectric plants in South Korea.

The Government of South Korea reported that hackers compromised the internal network of the company and have stolen data from its systems, but according to the government only “non-critical” networks were affected.

The hackers requested the company shutdown three reactors after the hack, they also posted a message on Twitter to  They also menaced the “destruction” of the plants in a message posted to Twitter.

nuclear-plant south Korea

As a proof of the intrusion, the hackers leaked a portion of data stolen in the attack that included personal information of 10,799 KHNP employees.

“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 hacker’s post said, according to Yonhap.

The investigators have found many similarities with the Sony Pictures hack, the attackers requested an unspecified amount of money threatening the release of sensitive data. The attack chain started with a spear phishing campaign, the experts counted 5,986 phishing attacks against 3,571 KHNP employees. Like in the Sony case, the malicious code was compiled on a computer that was configured for the Korean language.

The investigators speculate that the malware used by attackers is a malicious code usually exploited by North Korean APT for their cyber attacks. The experts involved in the analysis of the malware traced malicious traffic back to addresses in China near the North Korean border.

 “The malicious codes used for the nuclear operator hacking were the same in composition and working methods as the so-called ‘kimsuky’ malware that North Korean hackers use.” read a statement issued by the Republic of Korea’s Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office,

Recently hackers have targeted several times critical infrastructure of the South Korea, documents relates to part of the blueprints of nuclear power plants, including the hot water systems of the reactors at the Kori nuclear power plant in Gori, were blueprints of nuclear power plants, including the hot water systems of the reactors at the Kori nuclear power plant in Gori, were leaked via aTwitter account named “Who am I = No Nuclear Power.” aTwitter account named “Who am I = No Nuclear Power.”

The Twitter profile claimed the author was “president of anti-nuclear reactor group from Hawaii” which explained that the data leaked were part of a collection of documents that were posted since December 15, 2014.

“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.” states a blog post published by the Yonhap News Agency. “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,”

Stolen data also included set of technical data and documents on reactor design.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  South Korea, hackers)

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