The U.S. Department of State shut down its e-mail system this weekend over concerns that a hacker may have gained access to the network, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. The suspicious activity was detected in a part of the system dealing with unclassified e-mail; officials say that classified e-mail was never compromised or shut down.
The State Department, which is responsible for international relations, initially called the shutdown a routine maintenance outage. The possibility of a cyber attack was only confirmed after AP broke the news, citing an anonymous official. Over the weekend, unclassified e-mail and some parts of the State Department’s public website were offline. As a result, some government employees were forced to temporarily use Gmail accounts instead.
The State Department isn’t alone on these targeted attacks. Just last week, the U.S Postal Service was hacked by what appeared to be Chinese government operatives, and back in October, the White House computer network was also breached, potentially on order from the Russian government.