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State of shock: US government agency shuts down email system after hacking attack

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Security concerns in U.S. government agencies are escalating, as an unnamed senior State Department official confirms that the White House wasn’t the only victim of recent hacking attacks. In fact, the State Department was reportedly targeted during the same time-frame as the White House’s network was last month.

To protect the State Department’s unclassified email system, an unprecedented safety measure was used. The entire system has been temporarily shut down, and maintenance work is currently ongoing.

RelatedUnidentified hackers breach White House network

The security upgrades are expected to be wrapped up sometime today, or by Tuesday at the latest. Once the work is completed, the State Department will come forward and address the shutdown.

“The department recently detected activity of concern in portions of its unclassified email system,” according to the official.

“There was no compromise of any of the department’s classified systems,” the source also stated.

That’s certainly a relief, although it doesn’t assuage all the other causes of anxiety. First and foremost, if its systems were indeed under siege last month, why didn’t the State Department schedule this repair operation earlier?

Equally as vexing is the official’s total silence on the identities of the cyber criminals, though it’s possible that the matter is still being investigated. However, if the department doesn’t tell the public anything, many will assume it’s because they don’t have any solid leads.

RelatedRussian hacking squad unleashes attacks against NATO, EU

The White House suspects that a group of Russian hackers were behind the attacks that its network recently experienced. Separate attacks on networks at the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Postal Service were pinned on Chinese hackers.

It’s possible that the latest attacks are originating from those same nations, but at this point, the origins of these intrusions are currently unknown.