During a Chinese hacker attack on the U.S. Department of State’s email system earlier this year, 60,000 emails were stolen, according to a Senate staff member who spoke to Reuters.
The emails were obtained through ten accounts, the staff member said. Ministry policymakers were informed about this by the IT department.
Nine victims were in contact with East Asia and the Pacific, while the user of the tenth account frequently communicated with European organizations.
In July, it was already reported that a Chinese hacker group had gained access to mailboxes of 25 American organizations. The breach was discovered by Microsoft, which manages the email platform.
At that time, it was unclear which organizations were targeted, although it was known that several U.S. ministries were affected. The Department of State stated that no sensitive data was stolen. The content of the emails is still undisclosed.
The hackers accessed the mailboxes through a device of a Microsoft employee, using it as an entry point to infiltrate other organizations. A U.S. senator told Reuters that the defence against cyberattacks needs to be improved. “Due to the potential vulnerabilities, we need to consider whether the government should rely on a single party,” he said.