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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Warning Chinese cyber criminals pose threat to nuclear industry - claim

Chinese cyber criminals could be targeting the west Cumbrian nuclear industry in a bid to steal information and copy technology, businesses have been warned.

IT security expert Dr Paul Irving issued the stark warning at a meeting of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster.

Dr Irving claimed “state-sponsored cyber criminals” were targeting a range of industries, including nuclear, as China attempts to rival the world’s leading economies.

The Chinese government has drawn up a list of sectors it wants to develop rapidly over the coming decades, one of which is nuclear, he said.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises may be targeted and there is a need for the industry to ensure the supply chain is protected from attack,” he said.

China has already banned foreign-made planes, trains and wind energy products in a bid to protect its home-grown industries. And Dr Irving claims that clear links to cyber espionage designed to steal technology are being investigated.

He told a meeting of cluster members that cyber crime costs the UK economy £27 billion a year. Nuclear reactors and associated technology are worth over £34.8bn in exports to the UK.

Dr Irving, of Keswick-based Lakestyle, told the meeting, at Energus, Lillyhall, that companies could fall victim to cyber criminals in many ways including attacks on the IT system, email interception, interference with phones and laptops on foreign trips and social media based attacks.

A so-called advanced persistent threat (APT) would see bombardment of a company’s IT systems to find a weakness and gain access, Dr Irving said, adding that on average they would lie undiscovered for 416 days.

“Imagine somebody being able to route around in your files that long,” he said.

The vast majority of firms attacked in this way only found out when third parties alerted them to the problem, he said.

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