Power grid in U.S. hacked

Dig­i­tal clues found in sys­tem of Ver­mont elec­tric util­ity.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous

A code as­so­ci­ated with the Rus­sian hack­ing op­er­a­tion dubbed Griz­zly Steppe by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been de­tected within the sys­tem of a Ver­mont util­ity, ac­cord­ing to U.S. of­fi­cials.

While the Rus­sians did not ac­tively use the code to dis­rupt op­er­a­tions of the util­ity, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials who asked for anonymity to dis­cuss a se­cu­rity mat­ter, the pen­e­tra­tion of the na­tion’s elec­tri­cal grid is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it rep­re­sents a po­ten­tially se­ri­ous vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Gov­ern­ment and util­ity in­dus­try of­fi­cials reg­u­larly mon­i­tor the na­tion’s elec­tri­cal grid be­cause it is highly com­put­er­ized and any dis­rup­tions can have dis­as­trous im­pli­ca­tions for the func­tion of med­i­cal and emer­gency ser­vices.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing one se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, said they are not yet sure what the in­ten­tions of the Rus­sians might have been. The pen­e­tra­tion may have been de­signed to dis­rupt the util­ity’s op­er­a­tions or as a test by the Rus­sians to see whether they could pen­e­trate a por­tion of the grid.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials have shared the

mal­ware code used in Griz­zly Steppe with util­ity executives na­tion­wide, a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, and Ver­mont util­ity of­fi­cials iden­ti­fied it within their op­er­a­tions.

While it is un­clear which util­ity re­ported the in­ci­dent, there are just two ma­jor util­i­ties in Ver­mont, Green Moun­tain Power and Burling­ton Elec­tric.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the FBI and the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, the hack­ers in­volved in the Rus­sian op- era­tion used fraud­u­lent emails that tricked their re­cip­i­ents into re­veal­ing pass­words.

The Rus­sians have been ac­cused in the past of launch­ing a cy­ber­at­tack on Ukraine’s elec­tri­cal grid, some­thing they have de­nied. Cy­ber­se­cu­rity experts say a hack in De­cem­ber 2015 desta­bi­lized Kiev’s power grid, caus­ing a blackout in part of the Ukrainian cap­i­tal. On Thurs­day, Ukra­nian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko ac­cused Rus­sian of wag­ing a cy­ber­war on his coun­try that has en­tailed 6,500 at­tacks against Ukra­nian state in­sti­tu­tions over the past two months.

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