Malware created by the Russian government was discovered on a computer within a Vermont electric company

Published January 2, 2017 by lagmen
President Obama and President Putin sit in front of two American flags and two Russian flags.

The tension between Russia and the US is running high. On Dec. 29, US president Obama took serious action against the Russians, expelling 35 diplomats and issuing sanctions to Russian intelligence agencies. The reason? The surfacing of Russian breaches of US cybersecurity.

Earlier in the week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report (pdf) detailing Russian malware code—called “Grizzly Steppe”—that had been used to hack emails within the Democratic National Committee in the lead up to the 2016 election. And now, US officials have confirmed that similar computer code was found on a company laptop from a utility company in Vermont, according to the Washington Post.

The Burlington Electric Department is city-owned, and only serves about 19,600 customers. The laptop was not connected to its electrical grid, and government officials say it wasn’t used to interfere with utilities in any way.

The presence of Russian malware, though, suggests that other utilities may also have been targeted. Electrical grids power homes, but and, more worryingly, critical infrastructure like hospitals and other emergency departments. “This is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter,” Vermont senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement. “That is a direct threat to Vermont.”

Such attacks have already happened in Ukraine. On Dec. 28, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko accused Russian intelligence of 6,500 cyberattacks in the past two months. In December 2015, Russian malware disrupted power to 225,000 residents serviced by three separate electrical providers in Ukraine.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: