Computer in control room of Monju fast breeder reactor infected with virus

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Monju Fast Breeder Reactor in Japan

In November, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority warned the Japan Atomic Energy Agency that its anti-terrorism measures at the Monju fast-breeder reactor were not sufficient.  The regulatory agency rebuked the JAEA for violating security guidelines meant to protect nuclear materials from terrorism and other malicious attacks.

This week, the operator of the reactor announced that computer hackers may have stolen private data including internal e-mails and training records.

On January 2nd, a server administrator identified that one of the eight computers in the reactor control room had been accessed over 30 times in the last five days after an employee updated free software on the PC on Thursday.

More than 42,000 e-mails and staff training reports were stored on the computer.

Investigators concluded that a virus likely infected the computer during the update and that some of the data was stolen after finding traces of out-bound transmissions.  The requests appeared to have come from a website based in South Korea.

The JAEA is currently investigating how the infection occurred and confirming the data on the computer that could have been accessed.

The JAEA itself has been plagued by problems and scandals related to the Monju reactor, including findings by regulators that regular safety checks had not been performed on over 14,000 different pieces of equipment.

In November of 2012, a computer located at the JAEA headquarters at Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture was also found to be infected with a computer virus.

In May of 2013, the Nuclear Regulation Authority forbid JAEA from restarting the reactor, after it said that the safety culture at the plant had degraded.

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