During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the State Department was one of the poorest performing federal government agencies when it came to securing its computer networks.
The Associated Press reported:
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The State Department’s compliance with federal cybersecurity standards was below average when Clinton took over but grew worse in each year of her tenure, according to an annual report card compiled by the White House based on audits by agency watchdogs. Network security continued to slip after Kerry replaced Clinton in February 2013, and remains substandard, according to the State Department inspector general. In each year from 2011 to 2014, the State Department’s poor cybersecurity was identified by the inspector general as a "significant deficiency" that put the department’s information at risk.
In coming weeks, the most recent assessment of agencies’ cybersecurity will be published, just as Clinton endures scrutiny for her decision to exclusively use a personal email system while serving as secretary of state. Clinton’s personal server is the subject of an FBI investigation and reports indicate that it was vulnerable to hackers.
Clinton did not prioritize cybersecurity shortcomings, senior State Department officials said, leading to its low rating on cybersecurity performance. In the most recent assessment, the agency was rated 42 out of 100 on cybersecurity, placing it lower than the Office of Personnel Management, which endured a Chinese-origin cyber attack that compromised personal information of over 20 million Americans.
After Secretary of State John Kerry took over, Russian hackers were able to breach the agency’s unclassified email system in 2014, allowing hackers access to the network for months. The hackers were also able to gain access to networks used by the Department of Defense and the White House.
During Clinton’s time at State, Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to access her personal email. It remains unclear whether or not the hackers successfully infiltrated Clinton’s system. The Democratic presidential candidate’s server has also been targeted by hackers from China, South Korea, and Germany since she left the State Department.
State Department officials insist that its cybersecurity performance is improving.
"We have a strong cybersecurity program, successfully defeating almost 100 percent of the 4 billion attempted intrusions we experience each year," spokesman Mark Toner stated.