WASHINGTON Dec 30 A code associated with the
Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama
administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont
electric utility, The Washington Post reported on Friday, citing
unnamed U.S. officials.
The Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt
operations of the utility, the officials told the Post, but
penetration of the nation's electrical grid is significant
because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.
Reuters could not independently confirm the story.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of
35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian
intelligence agencies over their involvement in hacking U.S.
political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
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
functioning of medical and emergency services, the Post said.
U.S. officials, including one senior administration
official, said they are not yet sure what the intentions of the
Russians might have been, the Post reported.
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, the Post reported.
While it is unclear which utility reported the incident,
there are just two major utilities in Vermont, Green Mountain
Power and Burlington Electric, the Post said.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security did
not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Green Mountain Power and Burlington Electric did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
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, the newspaper said.
(Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler)