The official, who attended a briefing by State Department IT experts, said they notified US congressmen of 60,000 stolen emails from ten different State Department accounts.
Although the names of the victims were not released, all but one worked in the East Asia and Pacific area, the official said.
The employee who is an associate in the team of sen. Eric Schmidt, wished to remain anonymous.
In July, U.S. officials disclosed that in the period since May, hackers linked to the Chinese state had infiltrated the email correspondence of accounts at about 25 agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and the State Department. The extent of the damage from the hacking attack remains unclear.
US claims that China was behind the attack further strained already strained bilateral relations. Beijing has denied the accusations.
The large-scale hacking attack also drew attention to the outsized role that Microsoft plays in providing IT services to the US government.
That’s why the State Department has begun to shift to diversifying providers and improving defenses, IT experts at the foreign policy department told the briefing.
Hackers managed to compromise the personal device of a Microsoft computer engineer, which subsequently allowed them to break into the State Department’s email correspondence, it became clear at the briefing.
“We need to improve our defense against this kind of cyberattacks and intrusions,” Schmitt commented after the briefing. “We also need to think carefully about whether the government’s reliance on a single supplier is a potential weakness.”
So far, there is no comment from Microsoft about the State Department briefing. The company, which has been criticized for its security measures since the attacks, said it was behind a hacking group called Storm-0558, which had infiltrated email correspondence through Microsoft’s Outlook service.
So far, there is no official comment from the State Department and Sen. Schmidt, broadcast by BTA.
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