The inspector general of the State Department confirmed today in Senate testimony that the State Department network at some point was hacked. He made the comments in response to a question from Georgia senator David Perdue.
Perdue asked, “Do you have evidence that the State Department’s network has been attacked, and does that affect you guys?”
“There is evidence it has been attacked, and it has affected us. I can’t really go into details because of the nature of the information,” said inspector general Steve Linick.
In a statement, Perdue commented, “Georgians sent me to Washington to make the federal government more effective, transparent, and accountable. Today’s hearing is part of our Congressional oversight authority. It is my hope that this first hearing and the bipartisan work of this subcommittee will help uncover ways we can improve and streamline oversight at the State Department in order to support the men and women who serve our country here at home and around the world.
“The Office of the Inspector General was designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and has laudably found ways to save taxpayers millions of dollars. However, they do not have autonomy or independence to conduct adequate oversight. Given the important mission of the State Department, it’s outrageous that Mr. Linick and his team are not given full authority to hold a department of 72,000 employees accountable. As chairman of this subcommittee, my goal is to improve the overall operational effectiveness of the State Department and provide greater transparency and accountability for the American people.”
On the heels of an Associated Press report over the weekend that the State Department's unclassified email system was taken offline due to a suspected hacking attack, the main State.gov website is down
FBI director James Comey talked about Chinese hacking -- and how basically every American company has been targeted -- last night on 60 Minutes. Comey said that it's not the Chinese are so good, it's that they're "prolific." He likened their hacking style to a "drunk burglar."
60 Minutes host Scott Pelley asked, "What countries are attacking the United States as we sit here in cyberspace?"
What to do about cyber attacks from state actors and their surrogates? For the State Department and DHS it would seem that the answer is now the courts and international negotiation. Hints of this came recently with the indictment of 5 Chinese military personnel for hacking. An utterly futile gesture as the Chinese are not about to extradite the 5 to stand trial, it bespeaks reliance on legal remedies that are, at best, only a matter of public shaming. Now, however, there is new evidence regarding the U.S. intent to negotiate on cyber with state actors like China, Russia, and Iran.
Agence France-Presse State Department correspondent Jo Biddle is claiming on Twitter that members of the media traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry to China "have had their bank accounts hacked."