WASHINGTON: The U.S. State Department became victim of a cyber attack as its unclassified email systems were attacked in recent weeks, around the same time as White Housesystems were breached, but no classified data was compromised.
The department shut down portions of its unclassified system over the weekend to improve its security but said they should be back online shortly, though it declined to predict when.
As a result of the shutdown, State Department employees are unable to access the Internet through their unclassified system or to reliably receive e-mails from people outside the agency. Unclassified e-mails within the department continue to flow.
“The State Department, like any other large organization that has a global span, is a constant target of cyber attacks,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters. “We detected activity of concern several weeks ago.”
Rathke said the agency’s classified systems were not breached, adding: “We have no reason to believe classified information was compromised.”
The spokesman also said the State Department breach was part of the same incident recently reported by the White House’s Executive Office of the President.
While the department detected the infiltration of its system some weeks ago, it did not close down the unclassified system until over the weekend, during a previously scheduled shutdown.
The State Department breach follows similar intrusions disclosed in recent months at the White House, the Office of Personnel Management and, just last week, the U.S. Postal Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.