Chinese Hackers Seize 60,000 Emails in State Department Security Breach

( – In August 2021, prosecutors charged 26-year-old Kevin Mason with second-degree murder and illegal weapons possession for the killing of Dontevius Catchings in Minnesota in June of that year. However, just days after his arrest in Indianapolis, a jailhouse employee made a mistake by removing two of the suspect’s holds, and he was released from custody. Once that happened, his girlfriend picked him up, he bought some essentials and disappeared into the wind, deleting his social media and laying low for two years.

Police tried to get Mason’s girlfriend to give up his location, but she refused to cooperate, leaving authorities no choice but to sit at his house and some other locations to see if he would appear. He didn’t — until now.

What Happened?

On September 27, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on social media, stating the United States Marshal Service (USMS) caught Kevin Mason in St. Paul, Minnesota, and had him in custody. The US Marshal’s office and the Dakota County SWAT team executed a search warrant on the home and captured the perpetrator. He did not resist authorities.

Marion County Sheriff Kerry J. Forestal thanked the Marshal’s office for ending the long manhunt and bringing “Mason back into custody.” He said the federal authorities have kept his office informed throughout, and they made it possible to search every nook and cranny in America to apprehend the suspect and bring him to justice.

According to USA Today, the US Marshals Service offered a reward of up to $10,000 for any information leading to Mason’s arrest.

Details About the Crime

In 2021, StarTribune gave details about the crime, reporting that police believe Mason and Catchings belonged to the same gang and were attendin

( – In July, The Washington Post reported that Chinese spies hacked into Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s emails, in addition to others within the Commerce and State departments. Initial reports stated the commerce secretary was the only cabinet-level position compromised, and all the information accessed was unclassified. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said Microsoft concluded that advanced persistent threat (APT) actors used a company account consumer key to gain access.

On September 27, POLITICO reported additional news about the breach. New reports show the hackers stole a total of 60,000 emails from 10 different State Department employees. According to Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO), the information was revealed during a Capitol Hill briefing on the matter. The majority of the email users hacked were working on Indo-Pacific diplomatic matters, and only one user was working on European issues. The new report also stated that US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns’ emails were also compromised.

While the news still didn’t state any of the information was classified, some sensitive information was stolen including travel itineraries and diplomatic discussions, and Social Security numbers were at least viewed. The State Department said the key came from a Microsoft engineer, adding that 25 entities were impacted by the breach.

The US Department of State “closely monitor[s] cybersecurity conditions,” but cyber attacks and hacking still happen because the world is online. The department didn’t exactly say China was to blame, but other sources mentioned the Chinese government in connection to the incident.

According to POLITICO, the State Department shared a few more details on how it found the breach a few months ago. The entity said it was alerted by an alarm, which prompted officials to notify Microsoft and the rest of the US government. Kelly Fletcher, the department’s chief information officer said the analyst who built the failsafe was the one to thank for the “hero work” they did designing the alert system.

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g the funeral of another alleged gang member, Christopher R. Jones Jr., when gunfire broke out.

Witnesses alleged that Mason and Catchings got into a physical fight over a gun. When the fight ended, those at the scene said Catchings was walking away when Mason got up from the ground, drew a gun from his pants, and started shooting.

Officers were already in the area to surveil for gang activity, heard the shots, and went rushing to the scene. They found Catchings on the ground. First responders transported the man to the hospital, but he didn’t make it.

At the time of his second apprehension, Mason had three outstanding arrest warrants in Minnesota, including the murder charge.

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