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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Russian malware in VT aimed at melting New Year's ice cream

Burlington, VT -- In a blatant Russian-linked malware attack on an electric company's laptop, there can be no doubt that Vladimir Putin is doing all he can to disrupt the production of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in Vermont, not to mention its maple syrup.

The difficult part to swallow, no pun intended, is that it comes at a time when the country is about to celebrate the New Year, and everyone knows how important alcohol and ice cream is in celebratory events, not to mention maple syrup.

The Burlington Electric Department confirmed Friday that on one of their laptops the malware code used is Grizzly Steppe, the name Homeland Security has applied to a Russian operation linked to recent attacks (but has refused to call Islamic extremism "Islamic extremism") was found. The company said U.S. utilities were alerted by the DHS on Thursday of the code. 

"This attack shows how rampant Russian hacking is," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) in a statement. "Attempting to halt the production of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Vermont Maple Syrup is not only unconscionable, but it is also cruel, as Americans  in every corner of our great nation enjoy these commodities as part of the celebration, joy and hope the New Year brings." 

Welch said the breach proves that sanctions lame duck President Obama took against Russia this week was warranted, although it seemed more like a loose, limp-wrist slap on Putin's hand rather than something manly.

Russia denied hacking U.S. systems but was 'outed' by the Obama administration after Hillary Clinton lost the election, in spite of our knowledge that this was being done for quite some time.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Leftist-VT) said that this discovery of the malware "goes beyond hackers having electronic joy rides," which makes one wonder what Sen. Leahy does for fun. 

It was The Washington Post who first reported on the malware discovery. Burlington Electric, a municipally owned company, confirmed in an email to the AP that it found the malware in a laptop not connected to its grid systems and said it took "immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials."

"Our team is working with federal officials to trace this malware and prevent any other attempts to infiltrate utility systems," the company said.

Neither Ben, nor Jerry could be reached for comment about this abhorrent Russian attempt, not to mention the Vermont Maple Syrup Company.

The utility company said it had briefed state officials and would fully support an investigation into the potential Russian hack. 

Had the hack been successful, there is no telling how much ice cream would have been ruined and how great the additional suffering would have been to be left without electricity in the New England winter, but fortunately, with global warming, fewer lives would have been at risk.

"Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world's leading thugs, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health and safety," Gov. Peter Shumlin (Duh) said in a statement. 

"Now we can go forward and hate Donald Trump with abandon, and without having to worry about the other thug," he added.

This could have been much more serious than it turned out to be since the laptop was discovered in time.