State to shut down part of unclassified email network

State to shut down part of unclassified email network
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The State Department will shut down parts of its unclassified email network in an effort to oust hackers that have been inside the system for several months.

“As a part of the Department of State's ongoing effort to ensure the integrity of our unclassified networks against cyber attacks, the Department is implementing improvements to the security of its main unclassified network during a short, planned outage of some internet-linked systems,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement released Friday.

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The department did not offer further detail about the scope or the timing of the outage, saying only that it takes “activity of concern … very seriously.”

The system is believed to be infected by Russian hackers, though it remains unclear which pieces have been compromised.

The decision to partially shut down the system follows a request to Congress for funds to “re-architect” both the classified and unclassified networks at the department because of “known security vulnerabilities.”

Once they breach a system, sophisticated hackers can find ways to entrench themselves for months or years without detections. Experts say one of the only ways to purge them is to isolate pieces of the system and comb through them bit by bit.