Russians Attacking US Electric Grid?
Malware found on a Burlington Electric Company laptop matches the malware variant used in the Democratic National Convention (DNC) attack in 2016. The DNC has made reports the malware they found was created by Russian hackers. If that is the case, these same hackers got into a utility company in Vermont. But why?
Initial concerns were for the security of the electric grid, which contributes to our economy, health and safety. According to Local 10 News, this was not an attack on the electric grid. The laptop infected was not connected to the grid in anyway. Also, the utility company serves a relatively small population. If Russia were to attack our electric grid, one would presume it would be done in an area that is densely populated.
Perhaps this was simply a test, to see if they could breach the system? Or maybe their thought was to start small, then work toward the bigger target? We can’t really be certain. But one thing is for sure. This should be used as a warning. Our nation’s cyber security needs to be increased to mitigate the risks of cyber criminals taking down not only our electric grid, but our businesses and government as well.
We have been warned. But what are we going to do next?
Malware, or malicious software, can be prevented from infecting PCs if the proper steps are taken.
- First, you need a solid security solution that implements application whitelisting technology. Application whitelisting prevents malware from executing, because it will only approve trusted programs and applications to run. Malware will never be tested and deemed “trusted”, therefore it will not be on the whitelist–thus unable to run.
- Second, educate PC users. Computer users need to understand what today’s cyber security threats are. They need to know what to look for in phishing scams, malware attacks, and tech support scams. If they don’t know they are far more likely to fall for these schemes.
- Update everything!! If you have an outdated program on your computer, you are holding the door open for hackers. Updates are made to programs and systems to not only enhance the program for user function and experience, but also to enhance any security vulnerabilities on the previous version. If you fail to update, you’re failing to keep your system secure.
- Minimize administrative rights. Many times malware attacks seek out the administrator, because typically that is who has the most access. By minimizing administrative rights, and removing any unnecessary access you will minimize the impact of any attacks.