Sci-tech

Investigators Probe Vermont Utility Laptop After Discovery of Malware

Investigators Probe Vermont Utility Laptop After Discovery of Malware

The headline for the Post's story now reads "Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to USA electrical grid security, officials say". I have no doubt that Russian Federation is hacking American companies and organisations.

The Washington Post has finally corrected a hysterical story it wrote last week, alleging that Russian hackers had wormed their way into a Vermont way-station that controlled part of the Northeastern United States' electric grid.

Officials with the state of Vermont said while the laptop was not connected to the Burlington Electric Department's grid system, the utility was not hacked or compromised. In a subsequent statement Saturday, BED said federal officials indicated that "the specific type of Internet traffic, related to recent malicious cyber activity that was reported by us (on Friday), also has been observed elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric". The municipally-owned utility clarified that had it had "detected the malware" on a single laptop, separate from its grid systems.

Vermont's elected officials reacted with alarm to the cyberattack. Still, Burlington Electric will continue to report anything turned up in routine scans, he said. The IP address in question had previously been associated with Grizzly Steppe - the operation connected to the DNC email hack past year - but experts and officials close to the investigation now say that the traffic may have been benign.

"Cybersecurity is an issue that Burlington Electric and all US utilities take very seriously", Lunderville said in a statement. But officials at the utility say much of the furor over the incident is overblown.

"While our analysis continues, we now have no information that indicates that the power grid was penetrated in this cyber incident", said Todd Breasseale, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. It's unclear whether the USA officials relayed inaccurate information, whether the reporters made false assumptions, or a combination.

"Had somebody, anybody, infiltrated our electric grid, that is an extraordinarily significant matter and one that needs to be treated very carefully, not leaked out on a Friday night", Lunderville said.

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The target was “theft of information” from “government organizations, critical infrastructure entities, think tanks, universities, political organizations and corporations.”. Rather than be concerned, he says people should be thrilled that Burlington Electric found the malicious activity so quickly after the initial federal alert. According to the DHS, its called “spear phishing.”. "We immediately moved to pull that computer off of our business network and isolate it, and we immediately alerted authorities".

In the current climate of claims that Russian-backed hackers may have meddled with the U.S. election by leaking hacked documents and emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign team, a story like that is likely to get a lot of interest.

Officials at Green Mountain Power issued a statement that pointed out it was not their utility that had found a problem.

Cyber-security analysts are probing a Vermont utility's laptop, following the discovery of malware on the device. This once again strikes fear in the government that Russian hackers have been actively seeking means to penetrate America's electric grid.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, urged federal authorities to launch an aggressive investigation.

Cybersecurity experts who had pored over the White House-mandated "Grizzly Steppe" report, expecting to find revelations about the tactics of Russian election hackers, were disappointed to discover that the paper contained little actionable information.

"This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides - this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter", Leahy said in a statement.


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