Spanish police arrest 2 nuclear workers for cyberattack on radiation warning system

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Spanish law enforcement has announced the arrest of two individuals in connection with a cyberattack on the country’s Radioactivity Alert Network (RAR), which took place between March and June 2021.

The act of sabotage reportedly disabled more than a third of the sensors maintained by the Directorate General for Civil Protection and Emergencies (DGPCE) and used to monitor excessive radiation levels across the country.

The reason for the attacks is still unknown.

cyber security

“The two detainees, former workers, attacked the computer system and caused the sensors to fail to connect, reducing their detection capacity even in the environment of nuclear power plants,” the Policía Nacional said.

The law enforcement investigation, dubbed Operation GAMMA, began in June 2021 following an attack on the RAR network, which is a mesh of 800 gamma radiation detection sensors deployed in various parts of the country. to detect surges in radioactivity levels.

In a post-mortem analysis shared by the agency, the intrusion was two-pronged, one which resulted in the unauthorized access to the control center’s computer system to remove a web application used to manage the RAR system. .

A second part of the attack involved targeting more than 300 sensors over two months, “causing them to fail to connect to the control center and thereby reducing the network’s detection capability”.

cyber security

The Policía Nacional said the arrests were the result of a year-long investigation and an exhaustive analysis of “all sensor communications”.

Additionally, two homes and a business were raided in Madrid and San Agustín de Guadalix, allowing authorities to seize several computers and communications devices that were allegedly used to facilitate the attacks.

“During the investigation, it was determined that the two detainees had been put in charge of the maintenance program for the RAR system, through a company mandated by the DGPCE, for which they had in-depth knowledge of it, this which made it easier for them to carry out the attacks and aided them in their efforts to mask their authorship,” the agency said.

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