Russian Hacker Group Grizzly Steppe Accused Of Planting Malware On Vermont Utility Company’s Laptop

On a snowy winter day in an idyllic Vermont town, Russian malware was discovered on a laptop associated with the state’s power utility. The code is generally associated with hacking operation known as Grizzly Steppe.

Burlington Electric discovered the malware code on laptop that fortunately was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The utility immediately took actions to isolate the laptop and call the federal authorities. It is unclear when the malware entered the computer, but thankfully it did not damage the electric grid.


The intentions of Grizzly Steppe are currently unknown. Some believe that the code was meant to disrupt the utility’s operations, while others insist that this intrusion was merely a test to see if the Russians could penetrate the system in the first place. One United States official remarked, “The question remains: Are they in other systems and what was the intent?”

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shared the Grizzly Steppe malware code this past week with the top administrators in sixteen industries. These included the financial, utility and transportation sectors. The DHS and FBI revealed the code as part of a joint analysis report. One official noted that the goal was to “better secure their networks and defend against Russian malicious cyber activity.”

map of power grid

President Obama blames Grizzly Steppe for interfering with the 2016 Presidential election after members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were supposedly tricked into revealing their passwords through phishing attacks. The Russian hackers reportedly then collected emails that were later released by Wikileaks. Obama recently kicked out thirty-five Russian officials from the United States, to which President-Elect Donald Trump responded, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.”

Russia was recently accused of attacking the Ukraine’s electrical grid. The cyberattack was launched in December 2015 and destabilized the power grid of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. Ukrainian President Petro ­Poroshenko also recently accused Russia of coordinating roughly 6,500 cyberattacks on Ukrainian institutions over the past few months. Russia has denied the allegations.