UK Nuclear Site Hacked by Groups Linked to Russia and China

Groups linked to Russia and China hacked into the most dangerous nuclear facility in the United Kingdom, the Guardian reported on December 4. The Sellafield nuclear site has the largest store of plutonium on the planet and is a dump for nuclear waste from weapons and decades of atomic power generation.

Breaches in the IT systems of Sellafield were first detected in 2015. Experts found “sleeper malware,” a software that lies in wait in systems to steal data or launch attacks. This means that some of Sellafield’s most sensitive activities—such as transportation of radioactive waste, monitoring for hazardous material leaks, and conducting fire checks—could have been compromised.

A cyberattack on Sellafield would have devastating consequences.

Cover-up: The investigation found that senior staff in Sellafield failed to report the problem to nuclear regulators for years in an apparent cover-up. The problem was only revealed when staff at an external site found they could access Sellafield’s systems and reported it to the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

The extent of data loss or ongoing risks to the systems is currently unknown.

Cyberthreats: Cyberespionage by Russia and China is one of the biggest threats to the UK, security officials said. In recent years, cyberattacks against the United States, Britain and their allies have increased.

Achilles’ heel: Dependence on technology is an often overlooked vulnerability in the West that will be exploited by nations such as Russia and China. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first wrote on this subject in 1995, quoting defense analyst Joseph de Courcy, who wrote:

Computer dependence is the Western world’s Achilles’ heel, and within a few years this weakness could be tested to the full.

Learn more: Read “China Hacks America—and ‘None Goes to Battle.’