Amid G20, US State Department shuts down email due to hackers

The US State Department has shut down its unclassified email system to remediate possible damage caused by hackers.

Alongside cyber attacks on several US agencies that were reported in October, the US State Department — which responsible for America’s diplomatic relations — was also hacked, prompting security improvements it made over the weekend that caused email outages.

The remediation effort came as world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, converged on Brisbane for the Group of 20 (G20) meeting.

The department shut down its worldwide email system late on Friday to apply fixes to its main unclassified computer network, according to the Associated Press. The remediation effort was part of a scheduled outage, which was in response to “activity of concern” detected around the same time as an attack in the White House’s unclassified network was reported in October.

The scheduled maintenance downtime follows patches for 32 flaws that Microsoft released last Tuesday. A spate of attacks against the US government were reported last month.

US officials said Chinese hackers were behind a breach of the US national weather network detected in late October.

Late last month it was reported that an unclassified White House network had been compromised, resulting in temporary disruptions to regular services.

That report in followed an earlier report that the National Weather Service was undergoing unscheduled downtime last month.

Last week, the US Postal Service announced it was the target of a cyber attack that compromised employee details — later revealed to have affected 800,000 staff alongside accusations that Chinese hackers were behind the breach.

Chinese hackers were suspected to have been behind both breaches, which occurred ahead of US meetings in the Asia Pacific with world leaders. Chinese officials denied state involvement on each occasion.

Security firm FireEye in October said Russia was behind attacks against European and other targets that did not appear to aid the theft of intellectual property theft or financial account information, but rather the collection of intelligence on defence and geopolitical issues.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags Enex TestLabBarack ObamaComputer NetworkChinese hackersUS Postal ServiceCSO Australiaweather networkG20 meetingunclassified networktemporary disruptionsWhite House’sAmid G20

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