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Toyama tritium researcher’s data targeted in cyberattacks

JIJI

Research data and personal information may have been stolen from a personal computer belonging to a researcher of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, at the University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center, the university said.

In addition to research data, hackers may have stolen personal information such as email addresses on some 1,500 people, including other researchers, the school said Monday.

Most of the possibly affected research data were those that have already been published or were slated to be published, and no highly confidential information was compromised, it said.

According to the university, two staff members of the center received emails containing a virus in November 2015 and a PC of one of them, a member of the teaching staff, was infected. The PC continued questionable communications with an outside party for about six months.

The center learned of the virus infection in June following an alert from an outside organization.

The university, based in the city of Toyama, briefed the education ministry on the cyberattacks in mid-June. Earlier in October, it started informing researchers who may have been affected.

The center conducts research on hydrogen, deuterium and tritium, including their use for energy.

Tritium is regarded as a candidate for fuel in nuclear fusion reactors, and is also one of the contaminants in the water building up at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.