Vermont utility finds malware code attributed to Russians

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A Vermont electric utility has confirmed it found on one of its laptops a malware code the U.S. government says is used by Russian hackers.

The Burlington Electric Department says U.S. utilities were alerted by the Department of Homeland Security of a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name Homeland Security has applied to a Russian campaign linked to recent hacks.

Burlington Electric says it detected the malware in a laptop not connected to its grid systems. It says it took “immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D) Vermont, issued the following statement:

“State-sponsored Russian hacking is a serious threat, and the attempts to penetrate the electric grid through a Vermont utility are the latest example. My staff and I were briefed by Vermont State Police Colonel Matthew Brimingham this evening. 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. That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”

The utility says its team is working with federal officials to trace the malware and prevent other attempts to infiltrate utility systems.

Colchester-based electric company Green Mountain Power says its systems are secure. It said Friday a complete systems check found “no security concerns.”

Russia has denied hacking U.S. systems.