State Department KOs Email System After Suspected Breach

The US State Department has been forced to shut down its email systems following a suspected attack launched at the same time as hackers infiltrated White House networks.

A senior official told AP on Sunday that “activity of concern” had been discovered and that the unprecedented step of a complete email shutdown of all global unclassified systems had been undertaken since Friday.

The outage is apparently to allow technicians to upgrade the “internet-linked” email system with security enhancements, and should be completed early this week.

An official told Nextgov that there was no compromise of classified systems.

The attack on the State Department was detected “simultaneously” withthe White House hack last month.

That incident led to service disruption but has been largely contained, officials said.

There is no indication yet where the attacks may have originated, but state-sponsored operatives from China or Russia will be high on the list of contenders, especially given the timing of the incidents, in the run up to the G20 Summit in Brisbane.

There have been a spate of cyber-attacks against federal organizations of late.

The US Postal Service last week revealed employee and customer details were exposed after a recent cyber intrusion.

The USPS was at pains to point out the attack was “limited in scope” but some experts have claimed it may have been undertaken to give hackers the information they need to launch targeted spear phishing attacks in the future.

Also last week it emerged that hackers had infiltrated computer systems at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

It’s still not clear what they were after, but the NOAA itself has faced a barrage of criticism for the way it has dealt with the incident.

There have been claims that it tried to cover-up the hack and failed to inform the proper authorities quickly enough.

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