Vermont Electric Grid Under Attack from Russian Malware

U.S. authorities are on high alert after the Russian malware thought to have interfered with the election was discovered on a Vermont power company’s laptop.

Homeland Security suspects the same authors of the cybernetic attack that unfolded over the course of the U.S. election are now responsible for hacking into Vermont electric grid. According to a statement made public by Burlington Electric on Friday, December 30th, engineers found on a company laptop the same kind of malware that was used in an attempt to influence November’s election by alleged Russian hackers.

The discovery was made after Homeland Security alerted multiple companies nationwide to be on the lookout for harmful code lines. Burlington Electric is responsible for providing roughly 19,000 households with electric power in Vermont each year. However, the company says that the malware was identified on a computer who was not connected to the power grid systems at the time.

Nevertheless, spokesman Mike Kanarick says Burlington Electric will work closely with federal authorities in order to prevent further attempts to infiltrate utility systems.

Federal officials consider the threat to be very serious, even more so after a similar attack affected nearly 200 cities in Ukraine in December 2015 and caused outages in roughly 100 more. The government refers to the malicious activity as Grizzly Steppe.

After a group of Russian hacker was accused of tampering with the U.S. election, an official statement by the White House announced on Thursday, December 29th, plans to expel 35 Russian diplomats and closing down several Russian compounds used by officials for recreational purposes. The Russian officials and their families were given 72 hours to comply.

However, the Kremlin denied the allegations.

Before Burlington Electric discovered the malware, the harmful code lines were previously discovered on units belonging to the Democratic National Committee. After an investigation was launched into the matter, FBI and DHS officials released a statement on Friday saying that the hackers were aiming for universities, government organizations, corporations, and political organizations.

The attack raised major concerned among U.S. officials since investigators found out that the country’s power grid together with several other major industrial facilities suffer from the same vulnerabilities the hackers exploited in the Ukraine attack.

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