State Department Inspector General Steve Linick told the Senate on Tuesday that State's computers have been the target of hackers, and that he knows because the IG's computers are on the same network.
Linick made the admission after being asked by Sen. Mark Perdue (R-Ga.) whether there's any evidence State's system has been attacked, in a hearing at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee.
"There's evidence it has been attacked, and it has affected us," Linick answered. "I can't really go into details, because of the nature of the information."
Perdue also asked what the IG is doing to insulate itself from attacks on State's website, and whether the IG's independence is threatened at all through the act of sharing the same system.
Linick indicated a potential threat does exist, since the State Department in theory could access any of the IG's files.
"Right now, we're sort of in a gated community, if you will, where we rent our IT system and the IT folks at the department have the keys to our IT system," he said. "So they really have unfettered access to the system. If they wanted to, they could read, modify, delete any of our work."
While the IG is supposed to be independent from State, Linick said the IG has been forced to ask State not to go into its part of the system without first asking the IG.
"First of all, we've asked the Department to agree not to come on to our system without asking permission," he said. "And finally, we've gotten that agreement from the Department. But we need more than that."