Over the New Year’s weekend a story made the rounds that the power gird in Vermont had been hacked by foreign aggressors, Russian hackers to be specific. As is usually the case with these stories the cyber-devil is in the details.
Much like the claims that the Russians hacked the 2016 US election the truth is somewhere in the middle. In the so-called power grid hack it was reported that Russian hackers had gained access to the power grid in Vermont. That turned out to be not the case. Instead, it was revealed that Russian malware was found on a laptop owned by a utility company. The laptop itself had no connection to the power grid, not to mention that Russian malware can be a misnomer.
Russia is a haven for hackers and malware, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily state sponsored. Also, not only is malware for sale to whoever wants to pay the price but any computer can be infected with it regardless of who owns it. For the most part malware is usually injected into computers when the user clicks on a risky link or email attachment. It’s normally used to cast a wide net to infect as many people as possible rather than singling out a single machine.
So as it stands right now the power grid is relatively safe from Russian hackers. There’s a better chance of it failing from its own decay.