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 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.
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.