Was North Korea Behind Attack at Indian Nuclear Power Plant?

Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks
Fraud Management & Cybercrime

South Korean Researchers Claim Kimsuky Group Was Carrying out Espionage

Was  North  Korea  Behind  Attack  at  Indian  Nuclear  Power  Plant?
India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (Source: The Hindu)

A nonprofit intelligence organization in South Korea claims that it has proof that a current malware attack at India’s Kundankulam Nuclear Power Plant was brought out by North Korea’s Kimsuky Group.

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IssueMakersLab, or IML, a Seoul-based group of malware experts, claims in a series of tweets that Kimsuky Group tried to take info on the newest design of the “Advanced Heavy Water Reactor,” an Indian style for a next-generation nuclear reactor that burns thorium into in the fuel core.

IML states it carefully follows activities of numerous group from North Korea involved in nation-state attacks. And it claims the Kimsuky Group in 2013 utilized a similar method to attack South Korean broadcasting stations and banking systems.

The research group did not right away reply to a demand for more info on the evidence regarding the attack at the nuclear plant.

Simon Choi, IML’s creator, said he will explain his group’s findings quickly at a security conference soon. “We have been monitoring the hackers since 2008. We were likewise keeping a close watch on hackers who made the attack on India’s nuclear plant,” Choi says.

The Intention

IML declares that the main motive behind the attack was to gain knowledge on thorium-based nuclear power.

“North Korea has actually been interested in the thorium based nuclear power, which can be utilized to replace the uranium nuclear power. India is a leader in thorium nuclear power technology. Because last year, North Korean hackers have constantly tried to attack India’s nuclear plants to obtain that details,” IML states in a tweet.

Last week, the Nuclear Power Corp. of India verified that a PC at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant was infected with malware.

The experts at IML also claim that the accounts of numerous Indian nuclear researchers, consisting of Anil Kakodkar, previous Atomic Energy Commission chairman, and S.A. Bhardwaj, previous chief of Atomic Energy Regulative Board, were targeted for malware attacks.

“Hackers sent out an e-mail containing malware to the previous chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulative Board of India. He was likewise the technical director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited as well as an professional on Advanced Heavy Water Reactor,” IML said.

Nuclear Power Corp. of India did not right away reply to a request for comment on the IML report.

IML also declares that those targeted by North Korean hackers are top authorities in India’s nuclear energy sector. If they stole their credentials, hackers might then contact anyone in India’s nuclear energy sector and represent a relied on relationship, they note. The hackers utilized a computer produced and utilized only in North Korea, the researchers say. “The IP utilized by one of the hackers was from Pyongyang in North Korea,” IML states in a tweet.

How the Malware Was Introduced

IML declares malware was injected into North Korea’s propaganda website, Meari, and dispersed via the site by making use of a Google Chrome zero day vulnerability.

According to a blog by Kaspersky, the make use of of Google Chrome’s zero day vulnerability started at a North Korean website where the assaulters injected malicious code. This loads a script from a third-party site that very first checks to see if the system is suitable for infection and which browser the victim uses. “After validating it’s discovered what it wanted, the exploit gains consent to read and write information to the device, which it right away uses to download, decrypt, and run the malware. The latter can differ depending on the user,” Kaspersky states.

Other Attacks

The Kimsuky Group is thought to have actually been accountable for the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power cyber terrorism attacks in 2014 in South Korea, according to The Guardian. The group utilizes spear-phishing e-mails, which are often designed with the function of stealing website account information and attaching malicious code, according to news reports. The primary targets of its attacks are federal government and military officials and news press reporters.

DTrack, the malware that might have actually been utilized to contaminate a PC at the Indian nuclear power plant KKNPP, has historically utilized as an exfiltrate information tool. It’s basically a remote access Trojan that takes control of a system, Kaspersky states.

IML states that the Kimsuky Group utilized DTrack to infiltrate the South Korean military’s internal network in 2016 and steal categorized info.

The Kimsuky Group has also targeted a broad range of entities, consisting of diplomatic bodies of the United Nations Security Council like China, France, Belgium, Peru, and South Africa, The Guardian reports.


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