A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station’s operator said on Tuesday.
The viruses, which include “W32.Ramnit” and “Conficker“, were discovered at Gundremmingen’s B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualization software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.
Malware was also found on 18 removable data drives, mainly USB sticks, in office computers maintained separately from the plant’s operating systems. RWE said it had increased cyber-security measures as a result.
RWE has informed Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is working with IT specialists at the group to look into the incident.
The BSI was not immediately available for comment.
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for Finland-based F-Secure, said that infections of critical infrastructure were surprisingly common, but that they were generally not dangerous unless the plant had been targeted specifically.
As an example, Hypponen said he had recently spoken to a European aircraft maker that said it cleans the cockpits of its planes every week of malware designed for Android phones. The malware spread to the planes only because factory employees were charging their phones with the USB port in the cockpit.
In 2013, a computer virus attacked a turbine control system at a U.S. power company after a technician inserted an infected USB computer drive into the network, keeping a plant off line for three weeks.