A new case of malware at nuclear power plants shows that these types of attacks are becoming more frequent.
Malware is always a nuisance, but it is rarely a deadly danger; only when it affects vital systems, such as hospital computers, or computers that control parts with a certain danger to human life.
I am talking, of course, about nuclear power plants, whose safety has been in question for decades; Today, April 26, marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernbil catastrophe, an explosion in a nuclear power plant that until today is considered the most serious nuclear accident in history.
Malware cases return at nuclear power plants
This is because obtaining energy from the fission of atoms is already a complicated process in itself, but it is even more so when the systems that control it have security holes that could be exploited by attackers.
For now we have not had to regret any disaster, but as the famous Stuxnet virus showed, there is a whole sector in the underworld of the Internet dedicated to ending the safety of nuclear power plants. Stuxnet was targeting central IRNs, and that’s why it’s rumored to have been created by the American government, but today’s announcement is somewhat closer to the West.
According to BR.de, the Bavarian public news service, the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant has been closed today after malware was discovered on one of his computers, which he had been there since 2008.
At the moment there are many things that have not been made public, such as the type of malware, whether it is Stuxnet or a variation. The company responsible for the nuclear plant, RWE, assures that it is nothing serious, that the closure has been for precaution and that there is no risk neither for the workers nor for the population from Gundremmingen.
What parts of the nuclear power plant were infected
The affected system is part of the Block B load chain, which is responsible for bringing the used fuel from the reactor core to the storage pool. However, the infected computer did not directly control the charging system, but was part of the systems used by employees.
Until now, no employee has noticed anything unusual in the system, indicating that the malware was sleeping, waiting for the chance to activate; It is also possible that it had never been activated, but this is not known at the moment.
The computer was not connected to the Internet, so it is suspected that the malware entered the system using the USB memory of some employee, that had been infected on your home computer or on one of the computers connected to the central Internet.
This problem comes at a bad time for the Gundremmingen plant, one of the oldest in the country and whose closure is planned for 2021; Last weekend more than 700 people protested at the scene demanding the early closure.