The Washington Post published an alarming report Friday claiming Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electrical grid through Burlington Electric Department, a utility in Vermont.
“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,” the original report said.
As it turns out, that story was false. Not only was there no penetration of the U.S. electric grid, it’s highly unlikely that Russians were behind the hack.
An hour and a half after the Post’s original report, Burlington Electric issued a press release stating that malware was detected in a single laptop that was not connected to the electric grid’s systems.
Burlington Electric “took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of [the] finding.”
Since the single infected computer was not connected to the U.S. electric grid in any way, it’s impossible that hackers, Russian or not, could have penetrated the grid through that laptop.
The Post published a new report Monday evening shedding even more light on the alleged Russian hacking.
New evidence has revealed 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,” the newspaper’s Monday report said.
Burlington Electric’s infected computer had connected to a suspicious IP address associated with the Russian hacking operation that targeted the Democratic Party.
But officials told the utility company that traffic with that particular IP address is found elsewhere in the country. Officials told the Post that it’s “possible that the traffic is benign, since this particular IP address is not always connected to malicious activity.”
The Post has been under a barrage of criticism since the facts have come to light.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter that the Post’s original story was based on anonymous officials “who now have no accountability.”
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