US State Department suffers global email outage affecting its entire unclassified system

People enter the State Department Building in WashingtonREUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The US State Department experienced a worldwide outage on Friday (18 August) that affected its entire unclassified system. Officials said the system-wide outage began early Friday morning around 2am EST.

"We are working to restore service as soon as possible. Other communication systems are available and being used," the Department said in a statement.

During a press conference on Friday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert described the downtime as a "technical glitch". Service was eventually restored by early afternoon, Reuters reported.

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"It has been quite a headache today, our email system has been down," Nauert said. "It was brought up just a short while ago... there are some glitches that they're still working out."

A state department official told Reuters that the outage was caused by a human error and not due to any "external action or interference."

The outage on Friday occurred the same day that President Donald Trump announced plans to elevate the Pentagon's US Cyber Command to the level of Unified Combatant Command, giving it more operational independence and putting it on par with other major military commands.

"This new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation's defense," Trump said in a statement. "The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries."

In 2014, the State Department was forced to shut down its unclassified email systems due to what officials said at the time was just routine maintenance. Later, officials confirmed that the department's system was hit with a cyberattack by hackers believed to be linked to Russia. The agency's classified systems and information, however, were not compromised in that breach, officials noted.

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