An unnamed nuclear power plant in Germany was at the center of a disruptive cyber-attack in 2014, Yukiya Amano, head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said on Monday.
Speaking to Reuters reporters, Amano, who serves as Director General for the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said a threat group attempted to “disrupt” a German power plant’s normal mode of operation in 2014.
The expert was clear that this was not “destructive” attack, but only a disruption of normal power plant operations. The nuclear facility continued to function following the attack without taking any damage.
Despite revealing news about the 2014 cyber-attack, Amano says that nuclear facilities are more worried about people trying to steal nuclear materials from their power plants, rather that cyber-attacks.
Enriched uranium stolen from a power plant can be used to create home-made nuclear bombs, also known as “dirty bombs.”
In April 2016, employees at RWE’s Gundremmingen nuclear power plant in Germany found malware on their computers. The malware was a very basic computer virus known as Conficker.
Security experts said the malware most likely ended up on those computers by accident, and not because of a targeted cyber-attack, like those against Ukraine’s power grid last Christmas. The RWE nuclear power plant was forced to shut down to inspect its systems for other malware following the incident.
Another cyber-incident that took place at a nuclear power plant happened in 2014 when hackers stole non-critical data from South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd. That incident didn’t affect the power plant’s reactor uptime.