Who Is Guarding the Grid? | US News

By Aryn Braun, Siri Bulusu, Xiumei Dong, Katherine Lonsdorf, Patrick Martin, Steven Porter and Thomas Vogel

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A trio of highly trained hackers baited the employees of an electric utility north of Seattle last year with carefully crafted phishing emails. They had a bite in 22 minutes.

Neither alarm bells nor flashing lights drew attention to the mistake, even as a tiny package of malware slipped silently onto the computer of an unsuspecting employee. Had they been hackers with evil intent, they could have cut power to the utility’s 325,000 customers.

Instead, the team was part of an unprecedented partnership between the cybersecurity unit of the Washington State National Guard and the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

Instead, the team was part of an unprecedented partnership between the cybersecurity unit of the Washington State National Guard and the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

The success of the attack should be no surprise, said Lt. Col. Thomas Muehleisen, one of the planners of the hack. These weekend warriors were veteran computer specialists from technology giants Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

“They are all world-class,” said Muehleisen. “Would you be surprised that three Pro Bowl-ers can beat a high school football team?”

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