Hackers attack Russian nuclear power Web sites

Russian officials say hackers spread false reports of an accident at a nuclear plant and then shut down the power plant Web sites.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

In what Russian officials say was a coordinated effort, hackers knocked Web sites for nuclear power plants offline temporarily last week amid false reports of an accident at a plant, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Several Internet forums had false reports of radioactive emissions from the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant near St. Petersburg at the same time as some official Web sites that provide real-time information about radiation incidents were attacked, said a spokesman for the Rosatom state nuclear corporation.

"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," he said.

Last year, several dozen people believing similar false reports of an accident at the Volgodonsk nuclear plant fell ill after poisoning themselves with iodine believing that ingesting it would offset radiation damage.

(Thanks to Paul Ferguson of Trend Micro.)