Friday, the Russian malware, that was found this summer that was used to steal emails from the Democratic National Committee, was found again but this time at a utility company. The same malicious software was found on a computer that belongs to Burlington Electric, one of Vermont’s electrical utilities. The computer is a laptop with the company and it is not used in the daily servicing of electrical services.
Commissioner Christopher Recchia of Vermont’s Public Service Department stated that he did not believe that the electrical power grid was at risk from the incident. The grid is not in danger,” Recchia said. “The utility flagged it, saw it, notified appropriate parties and isolated that one laptop with that malware on it.”
Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security investigated the claim and found that it indeed is the same malware that was used on the Democratic National Committee computers. The Department of Homeland Security, spokesman Todd Breasseale said the department’s investigation into the cyber intrusion on the computer is ongoing and with the investigation ongoing he could not comment further. It is the first time Homeland Security has acknowledged this type of cyber-attack was the same malware as the Russian malware used to influence the election. The Department of Homeland Security and the utility said Saturday there are no indications that the electric grid was breached.
The utility company involved, Burlington Electric, serves about 19,600 customers in Vermont, said it found the code after utility companies nationwide were sent an alert by Homeland Security. Burlington Electric General Manager Neale Lunderville said to CNN, that, “We immediately isolated the machine, pulled it off the network, alerted federal authorities and began to work with them.”
The Governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin issued a statement and did not hold back in his assertion that Russia was involved in the malware found. He stated that, Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety.” Shumlin also asked for the federal government to investigate and take action to prevent future attacks.
US Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont also spoke out on the allegation that Russia inserted the malware into a Burlington Electric computer. He stated that, “”This is beyond hackers having electronic joyrides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter.” Leahy also stated that, “”State-sponsored Russian hacking is a serious threat, and the attempts to penetrate the electric grid through a Vermont utility are the latest example.”
Meanwhile, President Elect Trump has not given a statement on this newest threat from Russia but has said about the previous hacking, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.” Trump also complimented Russian President Putin after President Obama issued sanctions against the country’s diplomat by expelling 35. President Putin responded by not responding and saying he would not expel American diplomats from Russia. Trump tweeting that, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”