'No cyber attack on Kudankulam nuclear plant systems'

Representative image. (Photo/Pixabay)

The administration of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday dismissed as “false information” the reports that the atomic power plant came under cyber-attack recently, after an expert in the field said that he had reported about the “intrusion” to the government.

An official statement issued by KKNPP said that the control systems of the two plants in Kudankulam, 706 km from here, and other atomic plants in the country are “stand alone” and are “not connected to outside cyber network and internet”.

Several users on Twitter claimed that a data dump on VirusTotal, a virus tracking website, suggested that Lazarus, the North Korea-based hacker group, might have gained access to some of the systems at KKNPP.

A cyber expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the attack seems to have been carried out by using a “muted variant” of the virus ‘DTRACK’ that can give administrative control of the infected system to the virus’ creator.

“Some false information is being propagated on the social media platform, electronic and print media with reference to the cyber-attack on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. This is to clarify that KKNPP and other Indian Nuclear Power Plants Control Systems are stand alone and are not connected to outside cyber network and internet,” R Ramdoss, Training Superintendent & Information Officer, KKNPP, said in the statement.

“Any cyber-attack on the Nuclear Power Plant control system is not possible. Presently KKNPP unit 1 & 2 are operating at 1,000 MWe and 600 MWe respective without any operational or safety concerns,” Ramdoss further added.

The statement came hours after cyber-threat intelligence analyst Pukhraj Singh, who had also worked with the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), wrote on his Twitter page about the “cyber-attack.”

“So, it’s public now. Domain controller-level access at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The government was notified way back. Extremely mission-critical targets were hit,” Singh said. Responding to KKNPP’s statement, Singh reiterated that he had notified Lt Gen Rajesh Pant (National Cyber Security Coordinator) on September 4.

“Follow-up emails were exchanged, acknowledging the issue. I would solicit no further enquiries on the matter, requesting privacy,” he said.

Another well-known cyber-security expert told DH that there was a difference between getting access to domain controller and control systems of the power plant.

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