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Government Communications United States

US State Department Suffers Worldwide Email Outage (usatoday.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: The U.S. State Department's email system underwent a worldwide outage Friday, affecting all its unclassified communications within and outside of the department. The system was fully restored by Friday afternoon [after 12 hours], said a State Department official briefed on the incident who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

It was not clear what caused the early morning outage, but spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was not "any external action or interference."

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US State Department Suffers Worldwide Email Outage

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  • Logical conclusion: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @09:38AM (#55047875)

    '... spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was not "any external action or interference."'

    So just incompetence, then.

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @09:58AM (#55047935) Homepage

      If they don't know what caused it, I don't really know how they can fully rule out external actors being involved.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If they don't know what caused it, I don't really know how they can fully rule out external actors being involved.

        It's actually exceptionally simple, but I'll explain it in detail for you.

        Say you are the sysadmin in charge of a server, which goes down one day and so far all you have discovered is that pressing the power button appears to do nothing at all.

        Within a minute or two of you discovering this, your boss is asking for a comprehensive detailed report on what is wrong.
        You tell him the server won't power up, but you aren't sure why.
        Boss asks if it was Russian hackers, to which you look at him like he's a moron for

      • "Hey, why am I on this mailing list? Remove me please."
        "Yeah, me too"
        "Why am I on this thread?"
        "What mailing this?"
        "Everyone, stop responding to all"
        "Autoreply: Mark G is out of the office until next Tuesday"
        "Lol, you first!"
        .
        .
        .
        Bedlam!" [microsoft.com]

    • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @10:16AM (#55048007)

      So just incompetence, then.

      I came here to say just that. You might be surprised at just how bad it is.

      In most cases, government IT is a dumpster fire. I could go on at length, but the absolute best example of it is the failed FBI Virtual Case File project. IEEE did a very in depth write up of it several years ago.

      If I recall correctly, the objective was that the FBI tried implement a system after 9/11 that would allow its field agents to collaborate more effectively than phone calls and non-government email (apparently most field agents used things like Yahoo! and HotMail because they either couldn't get government email accounts or they sucked so badly). After years of ill-defined and constantly changing requirements and $300+ million spent, the project was terminated as a failure and the government actually got nothing out of it. Go read the IEEE story on it for more details.

      The problem is that this sort of thing happens constantly with projects of all sizes and scopes. Of course, if you've worked in corporate IT, you will recognize that similar things happen there as well.

      • When you don't pay people a fairly, and cut back on the skeleton crew - what do you expect?
      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

        And those of us inside TRYING to put the dumpster fire out are stymied at every turn. I have a program that refuses to produce ANY documentation, "because we're agile". Another one had lost all track of a bunch of equipment. Until I was assigned to close out the program. . .and found it was all at the last location listed on the 4-year-old documentation.

        Security patches get waived by programs "because we don't risk downtime". Even if the patching was planned to occur during scheduled downtime

        As one of t

        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          ".they had also bought an entire warehouse of gear to support it. Which sat there for years, in boxes, until they finally killed the program. And then PAID someone to take the unused gear off their hands"

          Not just government who messes up like that. Way back BP decided to implement WiFi at all their sites in North America & decided to buy ALL the access points before the project was ready to roll. Except this was when 802.11b was the standard and just before 802.11a/g was ready, which happened after the

      • by rbrander ( 73222 )

        I was just in a municipal government, but the dysfunctionality really was amazing.

        I know I'm an anti-authoritarian personality, so most problems look to me to be caused by authoritarianism, but I'm pretty sure about this one. I watched it grow for 20 years.

        Every large corporate (and this goes double for "municipal corporations" and other governments) IT shop that goes back decades started off as a *mainframe* shop, with all IT totally Under Control. As they took over the PCs, everything there had to be

      • Fortunately, we took care of this back in 2009 [slashdot.org].

        Meet the Military's Cyber-Security Forces
        Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:41AM from the can't-wait-to-see-the-ad-campaign dept

    • by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @10:31AM (#55048075)
      I bet on Windows updates going haywire.
      • Or, more likely, they're switching everyone over to Office 365 and decided to migrate all the accounts at the same time. That's usually a recipe for disaster. The three-letter agency that I work for is taking months to complete the migration, resulting in minor issues for some people and a whole lot of bitching by everyone else over the new interface.
    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      '... spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters it was not "any external action or interference."'

      So just incompetence, then.

      Looks like Trump's plan to stop the leaks is working

  • The U.S. State Department's email system underwent a worldwide outage Friday, affecting all its unclassified communications within and outside of the department.

    There will be mention of Russia in relation to this unfortunate event, partly as an effort to hide our [inherent] incompetency, sadly.

  • Uh, so.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @09:55AM (#55047925) Homepage Journal

    Hilary's server is still up, right?

    [DISCLAIMER: I dislike both parties]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No it was taken down and wiped. Like with a cloth I think.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This points out the necessity of Secretaries of State in having their own reliable email servers. But that goes over the heads of everyone.

      So, let me comment with the mentality of most people:

      Thanks Trump! You Nazi!

    • by John Ruschmeyer ( 4963099 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @11:25AM (#55048307)
      I was thinking the opposite... someone shut down a Clinton server, not realizing it was the backbone for the entire State Department.
    • Nope. The FCC has them in the NN comments left by the public.
  • Gmail just works, ask Hillary.
  • However, the global temperature dropped 0.3 degrees Celsius because of reduced hot air emissions.

  • Maybe the one person left working in the State Department doesn't know how to restart a server.

  • Hey I know, why don't they get their friends at Google to help them transition to their email system.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @10:33AM (#55048077) Journal
    The Secretary of State remained in complete and continuous contact with all people using a server in the basement of the Secretary's residence. The value of precedent set by a previous secretary of state was greatly appreciated by the Administration.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      First, there has been no contact between SecState and the Department employees to date, so there was no change in that due to the email outage.

      Second, Jared was still on-line, so the administration's foreign affairs needs were consider well in hand by the President.

      What a shit-show.

  • The Deep State's at it again. The 160th letter of every error, when put together and double-ROT13ed, spells out "#RESIST" 45 times.

  • That's what you get for upgrading everyone to Office 365 at the same time.
  • Definitely Russian hackers...

    Probably Russian hackers... all the evidence points to this being the case...

    It must be Russian hackers... who else could it be...

    The Cyrillic character found in the code is proof that the Russians could have possibly did it... maybe... definitely...

    The computer logs are obviously classified... and that proves that the Russians may have definitely had a hand in possibly directing the hackers that did it...

    What more proof does anyone need... there is no doubt in my mind

  • But her emails!

  • ...they were violating the ToS for their email provider, and were shut down because they were emailing about topics not approved by #Goolag and the other alt-left service providers :)

  • Strangely, nothing of value was lost.
  • I'm a Fed, but not for the State Department. It's nice to know that their e-mail fiascos are news-worthy, but my Service being unable to provide reliable e-mail access---even after farming it out to Microsoft---reliably is just par for the course. Add in our software-distribution system being down for weeks, and...Yeah, it's definitely incompetence. Government "efficiency" at its finest.

  • Aren't they running on lotus notes running on some old NT Era hardware? No joke I had always heard that from folks.

    • IBM used to provide help desk services for larger corporations and government entities. I worked for them for three years after the dot com bust. I've encountered many former IBM shops over the years. You could always tell with the presence of IBM/Lenovo laptops and/or the requirement of Lotus Notes in the job description (I've never seen it in the field). The three-letter agency I work for now used to be an IBM shop, but Dell laptops have completely taken over in the last few years.
  • I would consider it a blessing if my email stopped working.

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