Russian hackers penetrate Vermont utility system: report

Washington (AFP) - A code connected to Russian hacking efforts has been discovered in a utility system in Vermont, The Washington Post reported.

The code detected in the northeastern state's system did not disrupt its operations, the paper wrote on Friday, citing US officials.

The code was associated with the Russian hacking efforts that US officials have dubbed "Grizzly Steppe."

The Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity.

But they told the daily that the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation's electrical grid, and raises fears that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.

The Burlington Electric Department said it had been alerted by the government Thursday night, carried out a scan and found the malware in one laptop not connected to its grid systems. It said it took action to isolate that laptop.

Vermont's Governor Peter Shumlin in a statement late Friday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"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," he said.

In December 2015, a power failure that plunged parts of western Ukraine into the dark was found to be caused by a cyberattack. The Russians were accused of causing the blackout, an allegation they have denied.

A US federal law enforcement report released this week showed that Russian intelligence agencies over the last two years blanketed Democratic Party targets with malicious emails and have likely continued such efforts after November's elections.

The report's release followed an array of measures unveiled by Washington as retribution for what US officials have described as Moscow's malicious efforts to tip the vote in favor of President-elect Donald Trump by stealing embarrassing information from Democratic Party operations and senior party members before releasing it to the news media.

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