WASHINGTON (AP) – Computer break-ins at the State Department that caused broad disruptions in recent weeks apparently originated in the East Asia-Pacific region, a department spokesman said Wednesday.

It was unclear who was responsible, said Sean McCormack. He defended the department’s response to the computer break-ins as “a textbook example of how you detect, monitor and immediately address a challenge to the integrity of a computer system.”

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing lost all Internet connectivity for as long as two weeks, one official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues.

Employees previously told AP that the hackers appeared to hit computers especially hard at headquarters and inside the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which coordinates diplomacy in countries including China, the Koreas and Japan. The break-ins were recognized in mid-June.

“Initially these attempts were detected at some of our embassies in the region,” McCormack said.

Some e-mails continue to be delivered hours late, and some State Department employees can’t visit Web sites.

“Some of the Internet service to some people in some of our embassies and some people here was affected,” McCormack said. “But the system as a whole was up and running throughout this entire time.” He discounted some media reports of the hacking as “a little breathless.”

McCormack said the State Department notified the FBI, which has declined to comment. The bureau said it was “not appropriate for the FBI to discuss the existence of ongoing cases or lend speculation to media reports of alleged incidents.”

The State Department said its investigation was under way, but McCormack said there was no indication so far that sensitive U.S. information was stolen or copied.

“Our people acted immediately when they saw an attempt to compromise data,” McCormack said. “And the attempt, this attempt, which they had been monitoring and detected, was for a small amount of data.”



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