NEWS

Hackers Crash Web Sites of Russian Nuclear Power Plant

By Matthew Harwood

A coordinated hack attack knocked down the Web sites of a nuclear power plant in Northwest Russia last week after rumors were circulated on Internet forums that a nuclear accident had occurred, reports Cnet.com's News Blog.

The Web sites allow visitors to check radiation levels and determine whether a nuclear incident has occurred. The messages on the Internet forums said radioactive emissions had escaped Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant near St. Petersburg and that the local population planned to evacuate the area.

A spokesman for the Rosatom state nuclear corporation, according to RIA Novosti, said the cyberattacks coincided with the messages posted to the Internet forums.

He blamed the attack on opponents of nuclear power.

"People who stand to lose out from the Russian nuclear power industry's development have an incentive to spread false rumors of an accident at the nuclear plant," he told RIA Novosti.

"This was a planned action by hackers, which has brought down almost all sites providing access to the Automatic Radiation Environment Control System (ASKRO), including the Leningrad NPP site, the rosatom.ru site, and others. For several hours users were unable to reach the sites and obtain reliable information on the situation at the plant."

When a similar cyberattack happenend last year, dozens of Russians poisoned themselves by ingesting too much iodine, which they believed would neutralize the effects of the radiation.

According to The Register, "[t]aking regular iodine can saturate the thyroid and prevent uptake of radioactive iodine in cases of nuclear incidents."

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