Russia Accused of ‘Snooping’ on Vermont Utility’s Laptop

Putative Hack Apparently Did Nothing at All

Adding to the flurry of allegations against Russia which don’t offer any direct evidence of Russian involvement, officials are now claiming that “Russian hackers” may conceivably have tried to compromise a single laptop computer not connected to anything important at Vermont-based utility Burlington Electric.

It’s not totally clear what the laptop was for in the first place, but Burlington Electric issued a statement saying they had detected malware on the laptop, which “was not connected to the organization’s grid system,” and that the malware matches the description of the “Grizzly Steppe” family of malware, which the Obama Administration has accused of being the Russian military’s doing.

The “Grizzly Steppe” code is a series of apparently related pieces of malware which targeted myriad types of computers, and was involved in the hacking of Democratic Party computers ahead of the 2016 election. The FBI conceded in their “Joint Analysis Report” that they don’t generally try to attribute the origin of malware, but that they are to call this Russian in origin because previous reports from the Director of National Intelligence blamed Russia for targeting the Democrats.

Officials say they’re unclear how the now “isolated” laptop got infected in the first place, or why, but did play up the idea that this was a Russian attempt to compromise American utilities and potentially penetrate and disrupt portions of America’s electricity grid.

These claims of a conceivable plot, of course, don’t amount to anything, since the single laptop wasn’t connected to anything, and the only reason Russia ended up connected to the story at all is because it’s become official administration policy to blame Russia for anything involving this family of malicious code, ignoring how often successful malware designs are mimicked by other hackers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.