Future Tense

The State Department Shut Down Its Email Service to Protect Against Hackers

No sharing cat GIFs at work today.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Evidence of a possible malicious intrusion led the State Department to completely shut down its email service on Friday, and it’s still down. A senior official told the Associated Press that the agency had discovered “activity of concern,” but said that no classified material was compromised, only unclassified email.

The White House, the Postal Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have all been hacked in recent months, not to mention countless corporations. As the breaches continue, government agencies like the State Department are taking more drastic actions to protect data. An official who spoke to the Washington Post said that even parts of the agency’s public website had been temporarily shut down. And the Post reports that some officers have been using Gmail accounts as a way to keep working. (It’s unclear whether this is a good idea/legal.)

Originally the agency said that the down time was related to planned “maintenance,” but on Sunday when the AP reported the breach, officials confirmed that unexpected security work related to an apparent hack was happening alongside the scheduled work.

The agency should comment publicly on the situation Monday or Tuesday when everything is up and running again.