Leahy calls utility breach 'direct threat to Vermont'

Leahy calls utility breach 'direct threat to Vermont'

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse Overnight Defense: Navy won't reinstate fired captain | Dems probe use of federal officers in DC | Air Force appoints woman as top noncommissioned officer Dems request watchdog probe use of federal law enforcement in DC during Floyd protests 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.


“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 TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE have denied Kremlin interference.

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