Leahy calls utility breach 'direct threat to Vermont'

Leahy calls utility breach 'direct threat to Vermont'

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (D-Vt.) says reports that Russian hackers breached a Vermont utility represent a "direct threat to Vermont."

“My staff and I were briefed by Vermont State police Colonel Matthew Brimingham this evening,” Leahy said in a statement, according to MSNBC.

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“This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter. That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Russian hackers breached a utility in Vermont, but did not interrupt electrical operations.

Vermont Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia said malware was discovered on a laptop that was not connected to the grid's operations. 

President Obama on Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at Russia, including expelling 35 intelligence operatives and a swath of economic sanctions.

The move came after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election. Both Russia and President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE have denied Kremlin interference.

The Russians have previously been accused of international cyberattacks on electrical grids, including in Ukraine.