PHOENIX – Amid the furor over intelligence reports that Russian hackers tried to influence the U.S. presidential election, a cybersecurity scare at a public power utility in Vermont ratcheted up concerns over the vulnerability of the nation's electric grid.
Jumpstarting a discussion of how damage from a cyberattack could have a material effect on electric utilities – and their outstanding bonds – was the revelation late last month that the Burlington, Vt. Electric Department had detected that one of its laptops was communicating with an internet protocol address that federal officials warned could be associated with malicious activity. There remains no evidence that a "hack" took place or that the electrical grid was ever threatened. The situation was quickly contained and reported to federal authorities. But the scare was still notable to some analysts.