Russian hackers may have exposed the US electrical grid to a potential attack

Russian hackers breached a Vermont utility, potentially exposing vulnerabilities in the US electrical grid, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Investigators found code associated with the hackers during an analysis of Russia’s cyberattacks against Democratic Party organisations.

The code was apparently not used to disrupt operations at the Virginia utility site, The Post noted, citing unnamed officials familiar with the matter.

It is unclear which of Vermont’s two major utilities were targeted. Green Mountain Power is based in Colchester, Vermont, and Burlington Electric is located less than 10 miles away in the town of Burlington.

Notably, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, has an office in Burlington.

Officials said it is not clear how hackers may have intended to execute the code.

One of the biggest threats with these types of breaches is the potential to disrupt the US electrical grid en masse. Such an attack could have a devastating effect on emergency services nationwide.

A senior Obama administration official told The Post the malicious code was shared with utilities throughout the country. People at the Virginia utility identified the code within their system, the newspaper said.

Russia is at the center of a US federal investigation into widespread hacking that targeted organisations associated with the Democratic Party during the presidential election.

Russia has denied any involvement. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced new sanctions against the Kremlin as a result — which included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US.

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