State Department reportedly suffers a cyber attack

Details of the hack are still developing

State Department sign in front of a building

Hackers recently hit the Department of State with a cyber attack, according to Fox News and Reuters reports, The Department of Defense Cyber Command also reportedly released notifications of a potentially serious data breach.

According to a tweet by a Fox News reporter on Saturday, the breach is believed to have happened a couple of weeks ago. In a later tweet, the reporter said the extent of the breach, the investigation into the suspected entity behind it, efforts taken to mitigate it, and any ongoing risk to operations remain unclear.

However, a source told Reuters that the State Department has not experienced significant disruptions and has not had its operations impeded in any way.

"The Department takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard its information and continuously takes steps to ensure information is protected. For security reasons, we are not in a position to discuss the nature or scope of any alleged cybersecurity incidents at this time," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

Steven Hope, CEO and co-founder of Authlogics, told IT Pro the State Department is a juicier target for hackers than the shop around the corner. 

“While we don’t know what was breached, and we may never know in this case, the fact it is listed as ‘serious’ indicates that there could be a lot behind this, either in terms of the volume of data accessed or importance of it. It would be very interesting to know how the bad guys got in to affect the breach,” Hope said.

“By far the most common way into a network is via weak authentication, e.g. breached passwords or poor MFA. After all, we do have over 12 thousand breached U.S. State Department credentials in our database alone, but again, in this case, we may never know."

Sam Curry, chief security officer at Cybereason, told IT Pro that while the State Department isn’t likely to disclose any further details of this attack, given the chaos in Afghanistan, and lingering tensions with Russia over the Colonial and JBS attacks and China for the Microsoft Exchange Server attacks, public and private sector security teams should be on high alert. 

Related Resource

Don’t just educate: Create cyber-safe behaviour

Designing effective security awareness and training programmes

How to define effective security awareness and training programmesDownload now

“Also, allies of the U.S. across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa should also be on high alert. Let's hope the perception by some that the U.S. is distracted doesn't lead to more attacks and chaos,” he said.

“The State Department attack is one of the reasons for the EDR mandate for the US Federal government agencies in the recent White House Executive Order. Having a means of finding the attacks like the one on the State Department as threat actors move in the slow, subtle, stealthy way through networks is the only option in returning defenders to higher ground above threat actors.

"Advanced prevention, building resilience, ensuring that the blast radius of payloads is minimized and generally using peacetime to foster antifragility is achievable. Today, it’s not about who we hire or what we buy. It’s about how we adapt and improve every day."

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

30 countries announce crackdown on ransomware payments
ransomware

30 countries announce crackdown on ransomware payments

15 Oct 2021
Senators seek to reform Section 230 protections
Policy & legislation

Senators seek to reform Section 230 protections

14 Oct 2021
Supreme Court denies Oracle appeal over JEDI contract
Cloud

Supreme Court denies Oracle appeal over JEDI contract

4 Oct 2021
Biden is confident in the nation’s cyber security efforts
cyber security

Biden is confident in the nation’s cyber security efforts

4 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox
Microsoft Windows

Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox

5 Oct 2021