Hackers working for the Iranian government reportedly broke into the social media accounts of several people at the State Department last month. And neither the victims nor the US government knew about it until Facebook alerted them to the breach.
These intrusions are part of a bigger cyberespionage campaign, according to a report in The New York Times that cites anonymous government officials. It’s unclear how damaging or successful the hacking campaign has been, but these attacks confirm that Iran is active in cyberspace, and that the US government, as well as its employees, are ill-prepared to counter or prevent such attacks.
State Department employees didn’t even notice the attacks until Facebook sent a message notifying them they had been victims of a cyberattack. “We believe your Facebook account and your other online accounts may be the target of attacks by state-sponsored actors,” the alert stated. The State Department did not answer a request for comment, and Facebook also declined to comment. But a source close to the incident, who asked to speak anonymously given the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed The New York Times report.