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The US State Department has revealed that hackers stole data from its network after an employee in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail that allowed them to break into the government’s computer system.
The security breach happened last summer but details have not been revealed until now. A senior State Department official said that sophisticated international hackers had used an elaborate ploy to exploit a design flaw in Microsoft software. Consumers using the same software remained vulnerable until months afterward.
Donald R. Reid, the senior security coordinator for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, also confirmed that a limited amount of US Government data was stolen by the hackers before tripwires severed all the State Department’s internet connections throughout eastern Asia. The shut-off left government offices without web access in the weeks preceding missile tests by North Korea.
Mr Reid is expected to tell a congressional cybersecurity hearing today that an employee in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs opened an e-mail message in late May that gave hackers access to the government’s network.