By Meeyoung Cho
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's nuclear operator and the energy ministry will keep emergency teams on stand-by to the end of this year in case of any cyberattacks on nuclear plants as threatened by a hacker.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, part of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp, said on Monday that its computer systems had been hacked but only non-critical data had been stolen, and operations were not at risk.
The company and the ministry set up emergency teams on Wednesday after a hacker demanded the shutdown of three reactors by Thursday, threatening, in Twitter messages, "destruction" if not.
"Even though Christmas Day, that the one making the cyber threat had mentioned, has passed, we will make utmost efforts against cyber-threats by running the emergency system to the end of this year," the Energy Ministry said in a statement.
South Korea is seeking the cooperation of Chinese authorities in an investigation into the cyberattack on its nuclear power plant operator after tracing multiple Internet addresses involved to a Chinese city near North Korea, a prosecution official said on Wednesday.
The official close to the investigation said his team had not ruled out the involvement of North Korea in the attack but there was also no indication to believe it was involved. North Korea remains technically at war with the South.
The nuclear operator said in a statement it spent 10.7 billion won ($9.75 million) on cyber security in 2013, and it expected to spend 9.7 billion won this year, and more than that next year.
($1 = 1,097.7700 won)
(Editing by Robert Birsel)