FBI e-mail clobbered after virus

The agency's webmail system was taken down; computer systems for the U.S. Marshals were hit earlier

A virus has reportedly disrupted Web-based e-mail services at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI confirmed Friday that it had been forced to shut down its Internet-facing unclassified network, but disputed a report that the incident had left the agency unable to e-mail counterparts in other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

"The external, unclassified network was shut down by the FBI as a precautionary measure," the FBI said in a statement.

"Within 48 hours of identifying the issue and mitigating risks, e-mail traffic was largely restored to the external, unclassified network."

FBI agents can send e-mail on the agency's more secure internal network or via BlackBerry, but many use this unclassified network to send messages via a Web-based e-mail system, said a source familiar with the situation.

That Web mail service was down throughout the week and continued to be unavailable for some users, the source said.

"We can e-mail to anyone ... and [we] have Internet access. We also have a secure e-mail system that connects all 400+ offices around the country and 60 offices overseas," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in an e-mail message.

The FBI did not provide details on the security incident, but it looks as though hackers may have used maliciously encoded file attachments to hack into the network.

In its statement, the FBI said it was now blocking users from sending or receiving attachments on the unclassified network "to give our technicians time to scan all the attachments that came into the e-mail system to make sure we have identified and mitigated all threats to the network."

Malicious attachments are a constant security threat for computer users.

Microsoft warned Thursday that attackers are sending malicious QuickTime media files to victims, exploiting an unpatched flaw in Apple's media format, in order to install malicious software on Windows systems.

News of the FBI's Web mail outage was first reported Friday by the New York Post, although other news outlets had reported last week that the FBI had been hit by the same virus that felled Windows systems within the U.S. Marshals.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags network securitye-mailwebmail

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?