The State Department's unclassified email network has been temporarily shut down to update security protocols in the wake of a suspected hacking attack that occurred in early October.
A senior State Department official confirmed that "the Department recently detected activity of concern in portions of its unclassified email system." The official stressed that "there was no compromise of any of the Department's classified systems."
As a result of that incident the State Department scheduled an outage this weekend of some Internet systems to implement security improvements to its main unclassified network. The official said the shutdown has impacted some of the State Department's unclassified email traffic as well as access to some public web sites. "We expect our systems to be up and running soon," the official said. The official said the State Department incident happened around the same time as a previously reported hacking incident to the White House's unclassified computer network in early October.
The senior State Dept Official said it is believed that the White House and State Department incidents are related. Another government official said the FBI and other intelligence agencies are checking to see whether the two incidents are related. Sources have said previously that hackers possibly tied to the Russian government were the prime suspects in the attacks.
But White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did not point any fingers when he was asked in late October who was behind the White House hacking incident. "There are many people around the world who would love to gain greater insight into the activities of the U.S. government by collecting information from the White House network," Earnest said.