The State Department has taken the unprecedented step of shutting down its entire unclassified email system in response to a suspected cyber attack.
The State Department has decided of shutting down its entire unclassified email system in response to a suspected cyber attack. A senior department official at the State Department, which reported the facts on a condition of anonymity, confirmed that an “activity of concern” was detected in the system concurrently with another cyber attack which hit the network at the White House computer network.
A State Department staffer answering a call to the State Department Operations Center revealed that, as a precautionary measure, the e-mail system remained down, he also referred questions to the State Department’s Gmail account, not its .gov address. According to the official, none of the State Department’s classified systems were affected.
The official confirmed that the State Department shut down its worldwide email late on Friday as part of a scheduled outage of some of its systems exposed on the Internet, the measure was necessary to improve the level of security for its unclassified computer network. The security improvements have been completed on Monday or Tuesday.
“[The breach] has impacted some of our unclassified e-mail traffic and our access to public websites from our main unclassified system,” a senior State Department official told The New York Times on Nov. 16, adding that the department expected its systems to be up soon.
The incident was made public in October, but since then many other government entities were targeted by cyber attacks, including the U.S. Postal Service and the National Weather Service.
The official said The State Department the systems will be operating as normal as soon as possible, the near future, the man anyway hasn’t provided any information regarding the alleged responsible for the attack.
Security experts believe that the cyber attacks are coordinated by a foreign government, which is intent in cyber espionage activities. Security community speculates that Russian or Chinese hackers may have been involved in the attacks, but the US Government has never publicly confirmed it.