After months of security breaches, the State Department is taking this weekend to finally flush a group of hackers out of its unclassified email system. ABC's Justin Fishel is reporting that the infected State Department email servers have been shut down, and will remain shut down throughout the weekend, as part of the larger effort to secure the system. In an official statement obtained by USA Today, officials described the effort as "part of the Department of State's ongoing effort to ensure the integrity of our unclassified networks against cyber attacks," and reassured citizens that none of the department's core classified systems had been compromised.
Large parts of the unclassified email systems at State are down now and could remain down through the weekend as they are being worked on.— Justin Fishel (@JustinFishelABC) March 13, 2015
According to earlier reports by The Wall Street Journal, the State Department's email systems have been compromised for more than three months, and insiders suspect a Russian group is behind the compromise. As a civilian agency, the State Department's cybersecurity falls to the Department of Homeland Security rather than the National Security Agency, which oversees military agencies. Homeland Security is often seen as the less competent of the two agencies, leaving crucial communications with less than optimal protection. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced criticism earlier this month for avoiding her official State Department email entirely, in favor of a self-hosted personal account, which was inaccessible by public records requests.