DHS spokesman Todd Breasseale said the department’s investigation into the cyber intrusion on the computer is ongoing and he couldn’t comment further.
The DHS’s acknowledgment is the first such confirmation by the government that the malware is the same as the code used in malicious cyber activity that the US government has blamed on Russian hackers attempting to influence November’s election.
It comes a day after Burlington Electric announced it found the malicious software on a computer that was not connected to its grid control systems.
Both the Department of Homeland Security and the utility said Saturday there are no indications that the electric grid was breached.
Burlington Electric General Manager Neale Lunderville told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux that the utility found an Internet address that was associated with recent malicious cyber activity, and that IP address was communicating with a company computer.
“We immediately isolated the machine, pulled it off the network, alerted federal authorities and began to work with them,” he said.
Burlington Electric, which serves 19,600 customers in Vermont, said it found the code after utility companies nationwide were sent an alert by Homeland Security.
The federal government refers to the Russian malicious cyber activity as Grizzly Steppe. Officials involved in the investigation of the malware say they do not believe it was an attempt to bring down part of the electric grid.
One reason why, they cited, is that Burlington Electric is a small utility and therefore the impact would not be as great as if it were a larger company with many more customers.
The Washington Post first reported the existence of the malicious software.
Burlington Electric issued a statement Saturday saying that any reports that the company was hacked or breached are false. It added there are no indications that customer information was accessed.
Gov. Shumlin calls Putin a “thug”
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin didn’t hold back in a scathing message issued Friday that linked Russian President Vladimir Putin to the cyber threat.
“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety,” said Shumlin in a written statement.
Shumlin, a Democrat, called on the federal government to investigate and take action to prevent future attacks.
“This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling,” said Shumlin.
US Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said he and his staff were briefed Friday by Vermont state police about the development, which he called a “direct threat to Vermont.”
“State-sponsored Russian hacking is a serious threat, and the attempts to penetrate the electric grid through a Vermont utility are the latest example,” Leahy said.
“This is beyond hackers having electronic joyrides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter.”
A US government official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Saturday it’s not yet known “the full scope or intent, or if this was an isolated event or not.”
After weeks of ramped-up accusations about Russian hacking around the US election, the White House announced plans Thursday to expel 35 Russian diplomats — giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the country — and shuttering a pair of Russian compounds in New York and Maryland used by officials, in theory, for recreational purposes.