Defacements, Hacking, Information Security, Tools And Tricks, Vulnerability

State Department Shuts Down Email After Hacking Attack

The State Department’s unclassified email network has been temporarily shut down to update security protocols in the wake of a suspected hacking attack that occurred in early October.

A senior State Department official confirmed today that “the Department recently detected activity of concern in portions of its unclassified email system.”

The official stressed that “there was no compromise of any of the Department’s classified systems.”

The breach is the latest of a series of electronic intrusions first detected last month on government computer systems at a variety of agencies, from the White House to the U.S. Postal Service to the National Weather Service. The suspected hackers of the White House’s computer network were believed to be working for the Russian government.

The State Department did not seek to publicize that it had been hacked. On Friday, it announced that “maintenance” would be done to the unclassified network during a routine, scheduled outage. But on Sunday, after the Associated Press first reported the breach, officials acknowledged they had found traces of suspicious activity in their system and were updating security in the middle of a scheduled outage. In a sign of how complete the shutdown was, duty officers were using Gmail accounts.

The senior State Department official declined to say how many of the department’s e-mail accounts were affected, or whether personal information on employees may have been exposed. The official said the system is expected to be working normally again “soon.”
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