back to article Suspected radiation alert saboteurs cuffed by cops after sensors disabled

Spain's national police say they have arrested two former government workers suspected of breaking into the computer network of the country's radioactivity alert system (RAR) and disabling more than a third of its sensors. The intrusion happened between March and June 2021, and the two suspects worked for a company contracted …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But ... why?

    Apparently not ransomware or foreign spying. Workplace grudge? Or just 14 yr old minds stuck in the bodies of adults having a bit of adolescent fun? Thank god they didn't have a way to remotely pull the rods.

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

      Re: But ... why?

      QUOTE:Apparently not ransomware or foreign spying

      Due to the non-stealth nature of the attack, the most plausible explanation is either 1) Grudge or 2) Profit. In (1) they got really mad at someone from work, and in (2) a certain company will receive huge money to fix the attack.

      If it the attack was stealth, in preparation for a major action, I would bet separatists.

      1. cyberdemon Silver badge

        Re: But ... why?

        When safety sensors stop working, nuke plants often shut down as a precaution. It could be that the attackers were hoping that it would cause instability in energy supply / pricing?

        With all of the Billions that can be had from fluctuating prices currently, I wouldn't be surprised if they had something to gain from it. My £5 is on 2) Profit.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: But ... why?

          Or, just throwing this out there, they are or became anti-nuclear and were aiming for some sort of bad publicity regarding nuclear power.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: But ... why?

          > When safety sensors stop working, nuke plants often shut down as a precaution

          I might have misunderstood the article, but those two seemed to work for the Spanish Civil Defense, not for the nuclear plants themselves. Meaning that their sabotage won't affect the plants, it would just allow any potential radiation leaks to go unnoticed by the civil defense (plants have their own detectors).

          Now conspiracy theorists of the environmental kind would immediately assume those two are paid by the nuclear plants who won't have to worry about spilling their radioactive innards all over the countryside, but that seems way too far-fetched. I know if I was an evil nuclear power plant director and wanted to cover my dumping radioactive waste in the nearby lake, I definitely wouldn't go about it that way: This plan was bound to fail, one can even wonder why it took them so long.

        3. trindflo Bronze badge

          Re: But ... why?

          Repurposed icon ---->

          I like long shot bets: my story is they concocted some hare-brained notion that wouldn't occur to most sane people and in some weird way thought they were helping.

      2. low_resolution_foxxes

        Re: But ... why?

        They worked as "maintenance contractors", so presumably that means IT support/infrastructure on the CBRN side. 1-2 companies come to mind who likely provide those services

        It takes a special kind of individual to disable nuclear safety sensors. I have to assume profit motive would entail loss of a contract, or perhaps highlighting an extremely old IT infrastructure that requires modernization, with commercial interests seeking to highlight it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or they were covering up containment infractions for energy company and will get minimum sentence + cash.

    Without independent radiation sensor readings who can say what would have been recordeded by disabled monitoring systems, perhaps TSB levels of competence?

    1. My-Handle

      Not impossible, but without any additional evidence Occam's razor would point the finger at a simpler situation.

      1. Mark Eaton-Park

        Occam's never ever applies to people

        Since people lie and cheat, daily even without a good reason

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

          It does, if used properly. The default stance isn't to immediately assume that someone is lying just because they could personally gain from doing so, or even just because they can for no good reason.

          Occam's Razor isn't a law, rather it's a philosophical tool. It suggests that the hypothesis with the least number of assumptions is most likely to be true. Gaining evidence reduces the number of assumptions needed for a hypothesis, thus affecting how likely it is to be true compared to other hypotheses.

          1. Mark Eaton-Park

            Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

            You missed out the most important part i.e. "all things being equal".

            People are not equal and can lie for no reason therefore they cannot be considered to be simple especially if they are aware Occums will be applied.

            If things were otherwise then there would be no need to investigate crimes, since the most obvious suspect need only to be asked and they would confess.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

              No. Occam's razor says you should assume the simplest of two possible hypotheses, where no further evidence is available. It doesn't say you shouldn't gather enough evidence to find out for sure.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

          Rather than Occam, a better razor to use here is Hanlon's:

          "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

          Maybe they were shit at their job, accidentally deleted the control app, and they were actually trying to log into the sensors to fix them before their boss noticed, but fucked it up even worse?

          1. Swarthy

            Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

            Or, both. Maybe they were trying to take over the alarms to set them off on-demand for fun and profit (malice), and just ended up borking them (stupidity).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Occam's never ever applies to people

          @Mark Eaton-Park

          I would kindly ask that you don’t judge everyone else by your, presumably, low standards.

          Thank you.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      The biggest problem with that conspiracy theory is that all the historical evidence suggests no-one would notice, so there is no need to bother hiding anything.

  3. Paul Herber Silver badge

    There's the perpetrator - quick - caesium!

  4. Conundrum1885

    Could be worse

    The gang might have planted false data and caused even more damage.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    ...a well-known establishment of hospitality...

    Nudge nudge, wink wink, Say No More!

    1. tfewster

      One shudders at the thought of maintaining a "public-use network of a well-known establishment of hospitality". Though maybe the sysadmins got company perks on SAAD?

      Yes, mine is the dirty mac ------------>

  6. MachDiamond Silver badge

    The bigger problem

    Why were these sensors accessible through the internet? A popular place of hospitality sounds suspiciously like Starbucks or a local equivalent. Why wouldn't these sensors be broadcast only with modifications only via physical access? Yeah, I get it. It's so much easier to push out changes to all of them at once, but this is the sort of thing where you'd think they would have worked it all out before the devices were deployed. It's also something that should be very simple to begin with.

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