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Sun Aug 28 10:48:45 SAST 2016

Belgium's nuclear plants face threat of cyber-attack: EU counter-terror chief

AFP | 26 March, 2016 11:58
Activists wearing masks and protective suits protest against, what organisers said, the lack of safety of Belgian Nuclear power plants outside the Belgian Interior Ministry in Brussels, Belgium.
Image by: FRANCOIS LENOIR / REUTERS

Belgium's network of nuclear power plants and other major infrastructure face the threat of a cyber-attack over the next five years, the European Union's counter-terror chief said in an interview published.

"I would not be surprised if there was an attempt in the next five years to use the Internet to commit an attack," Gilles de Kerchove told daily La Libre Belgique.

"It would take the form of entering the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), which is the nerve centre of a nuclear power plant, a dam, air traffic control centre or railroad switching station," he added.

His concerns come as Belgium is on high alert following Tuesday's suicide bombings at Brussels airport and aboard a metro train that killed 31 people and injured some 300.

Belgium's neighbours have raised concerns over the country's creaking nuclear plants for some time, after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident.

Doel 1, the country's oldest reactor, was originally shuttered in February 2015 under a law calling for the country's gradual phasing out of nuclear power, but the government then restarted it under an extension deal.

According to reports, a security guard at a Belgian nuclear power plant was murdered Thursday and his access badge stolen. Officials were not immediately available to comment.

These reports follow the discovery by investigators last year of surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear plant official in the flat of a suspect linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks.

jm/ccr/mt

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