Last month, Belgian newspaper Sudpresse reported that they found plans for the Tihange nuclear power plant on the dark web. Now, Belgian authorities say that they couldn’t find any information regarding the nuclear power plant on the dark net.
“Neither the security services or a private company could find the documents on the dark net relating to a Belgian nuclear facility, which security was allegedly jeopardized,” De Miguel Bruycker, the director of the Cyber Security Center said on Tuesday.
When Sudpresse reported on the issue, the Cyber Security Centre, State Security and Military Intelligence (GISS) immediately started surveying the dark web for information on the compromised facility. The government agencies hired a private security company to help them, and an ethical hacker also joined the search.
“None of our information sources found plans on the Tihange nuclear facilities or the nuclear installations documents containing a serious security risk,” said De Bruycker.
The only document Belgian authorities found was on an abroad subcontractor. The information did not include any serious data on the nuclear power plant’s security system. Some members of the “search party” wondered if the documents were really on the internet.
“The documents could be on the internet or not, or maybe they could be found somewhere else. It’s a needle in a haystack,” the manager of the Tihange facility said.
“The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) does not concern the non-issuance of Electrabel safety approval for nuclear power plants,” said Jan Bens, director of Electrabel on Tuesday.
The FANC will examine the security of nuclear facilities in Belgium, however, Electrabel, who operates seven plants in the country, did not grant approval for the agency. The company has three months to respond to FANC’s request and the agency has the same time to conduct the inspection. According to Els Thoelen, director of security at Electrabel, the procedure is in the final phase.
“Nothing has been withdrawn or refused,” Bens said. “We took some photos and the work is not finished. There is nothing to worry about. This is physical work which requires time.”
Thoelen said regarding the security of the nuclear power plant that it functions through isolated analog procedures, they do not use digital platforms.
“No saving is done on security,” she said.
She added that only the maintenance of certain servers is outsourced. Thoelen assured that subcontractors have no access to those contents.
A recent audit pointed out breaches in how nuclear facility security documents are kept in Belgium. However, Thoelen says the issue has been recently solved. The audit is yet to be sent to FANC, although, the agency has been already informed about the possible problems.
“They [Electrabel] are in the team. We are always informed first,” commented Bens on the audit.