The PJ Tatler

State Department Shuts Down Email System After Evidence of Hacking Surfaces

The State Department joins the likes of the  Postal Service, the National Weather Service and the White House in the club of federal agencies that have been hacked.

Over the weekend, the Department “scrambled” to secure its unclassified email system after evidence was found that suggested hackers were “poking around.”

A senior State Department official described that technicians had found “activity of concern” in the unclassified email system. None of the classified email system was compromised, said the anonymous official.

The discovery was not publicized.  At first the State Department announced that there would be some routine “maintenance” to the unclassified network.  But after AP reported the breach, the Department admitted there had been an intrusion.

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.

NextGov is reporting the actual State Department hacking occurred at the same time as the White House hacking. “The State Department’s unclassified email system was compromised in recent weeks, at the same time as a White House network, and officials took the State system offline Friday, according to department officials.”

Sources said the White House hacking was the work of Russian hackers but the Russians deny it.

Asked last month about the accusation that Russians were behind the White House computer hacking, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin responded, “Is there any evidence?”

“We’ve been hearing a series of groundless allegations against Russia recently,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “So we can’t take them seriously any longer unless there’s proof.”

The State Department is expected to address the security concerns once improvements have been completed on Monday or Tuesday.