Earlier today we noted that CNN had made up out of whole cloth… with the assistance of a single unnamed “official” of an undetermined government… the story that Russia was going to shut down a school for foreign students in Moscow in response to Obama’s sanctions. Well, the day isn’t even over until the Washington Post had one-upped them.
Earlier this evening the WaPo ran a story under the breathless headline Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say.
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.
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.
Officials in government and the utility industry regularly monitor the grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the country’s medical and emergency services.
Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.
Wait. Who are the “officials?” Well, we don’t know because they remain anonymous.
And read that last paragraph again.
And now read the company’s statement:
Statement from the Burlington utility, per that BFP story. pic.twitter.com/25cHENWh0a
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) December 31, 2016
The utility was not hacked. The code was of Russian origin but it has been in existence for a while and there was no determination made where it came from. In fact, the company statement says that very clearly.
Hacking of utilities happens. But throwing the fire alarm over a nothingburger of a story is simply irresponsible. The most charitable judgment you can make is that the reporters, Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous, and their editor are clowns and buffoons. The worst is that they are actively collaborating with the Obama administration to ratchet up the perception of Russians bad acts in order to hamstring actions by the incoming administation.
It is both interesting and disturbing that the Washington Post is rapidly declining from a fairly authoritative, if reflexively left-leaning, publication to BuzzFeed with Gawker’s news judgment. The fact that they are running stuff like this and yet want to be part of the “fact checking” consortium that polices Facebook’s news feed is just scary.