The Washington Post has corrected a story that originally said Russian hackers penetrated the U.S. electric grid by breaching a utility company in Vermont.I missed the original version of this story. I read the updated version during a layover last night. I still find it alarming:
“An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid,” an editor's note attached to the original article said....
According to the report, which cited anonymous senior administration officials, a code linked to the Grizzly Steppe operation was found within the utility's system.
Officials told the newspaper that the breach did not interrupt electrical operations.
Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.To the right and the liberal-bashing left, it's just "fake news." Glenn Greenwald's headline at the Intercept is:
Russia Hysteria Infects WashPost Again: False Story About Hacking U.S. Electric GridWhich is nearly identical to the right's message:
Is it really hard to understand what's going on here? Let me explain by quoting a detail from another story about the Russians. This one is a New York Times report on Vladimir Putin's decision not to expel any U.S. diplomats after President Obama ordered a number of Russian diplomats to leave America.
While Mr. Obama framed the new American measures as a response to Russian hacking during the election, the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Washington and San Francisco was described as a response to continued harassment of American diplomats in Russia.(Emphasis added.)
Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, denied that any such harassment had taken place, but American diplomats tell a different story. Many travel around Moscow in cars with red diplomatic license plates that start with 004, denoting United States Embassy vehicles. That makes them easy targets for traffic stops.
Embassy employees said they were followed as they moved around the city, and that sometimes, when they were not at home, agents would enter and move the furniture around, just to show that they had been there.
See, that's what the Russians did in Burlington. They didn't cause any real mayhem. They just poked around a laptop on the premises of an electric utility in order to rattle us. It's just like breaking into U.S. diplomats' residences and rearranging the furniture. They want us to think they really could mess with us if they chose to.
To me that's infuriating enough. It appalls me that our next president is in bed with these schmucks, and it infuriates me that the right and the anti-liberal left think all of this is no big deal.
UPDATE, TUESDAY, 1/2: Well, now we have a real walkback from the Post.
As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility, according to experts and officials close to the investigation.On the other hand, the Russians certainly do this sort of thing. From a CBS story that ran just before Christmas (hat tip: Paul Canning:
... Officials told the [Burlington Electric Department] that traffic with this particular [IP] address is found elsewhere in the country and is not unique to Burlington Electric, suggesting the company wasn’t being targeted by the Russians. Indeed, officials say it is possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.
... U.S. officials are continuing to investigate the laptop. In the course of their investigation, though, they have found on the device a package of software tools commonly used by online criminals to deliver malware. The package, known as Neutrino, does not appear to be connected with Grizzly Steppe, which U.S. officials have identified as the Russian hacking operation. The FBI, which declined to comment, is continuing to investigate how the malware got onto the laptop.
Last weekend, parts of the Ukrainian capitol Kiev went dark. It appears Russia has figured out how to crash a power grid with a click.So stay alert.
Last December, a similar attack occurred when nearly a quarter of a million people lost power in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine when it was targeted by a suspected Russian attack.