July 20, 2006:
Someone in East Asia has been trying to break into U.S. State Department computer net works. Over the last few weeks, there have been repeated break- in attempts at embassy networks, mainly in East Asian embassies, as well as State Department facilities in Washington DC. There was a similar break- in attempt of the State Department, and other departments, last Summer. After that incident, and much investigation, it appeared that the attackers were operating from China. This years attack appears to be coming from China as well. China denies any involvement.
While the State Department said that it kept attackers away from sensitive information, State Department employees were told to devise new passwords for their Internet accounts. There were several other network changes that the State Department would not discuss. It was disclosed that, this year, State Department network security personnel spotted the attack in its early stages, and temporarily shut down many portions of the State Department Internet access as a precaution.
The U.S. government has put a lot of effort into network security, but the number of PCs and networks to be protected runs into the millions. The degree of protection varies from department to department, with some alert systems and "response teams" to detect major intrusion efforts, and deal with them. Details on all this are, for obvious reasons, kept secret.