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Report: U.S. House blocks access to Google services amid fears of ransomware attacks


According to a report from Reuters, the U.S. House of Representatives’ information technology team has blocked members from accessing any services hosted by Google. The move comes in an effort to prevent hacking aimed at lawmakers and their staff. Earlier this week, Yahoo Mail was blacklisted as well in fear of ransomware infiltration.

The report notes, however, that the two recent restrictions are not directly related to each other despite both having been implemented within the past two weeks. There’s no word on when the restrictions will be lifted, or if they will be, but they are said to be having effects on internal communications at the lower level of Congress.

Devices connected to the House’s WiFi or Ethernet connections are unable to access any apps hosted by Google following a notification from the FBI. “We began blocking on May 3 in response to indicators that was potentially still hosting a remote access trojan named BLT that has been there since June 2015,” a source with “direct knowledge of the situation” told Reuters.

One of the primary concerns is phishing attacks from third-parties being on the House network, especially in Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Two staffers reportedly fell for an attack by opening an infected Word document that was sent as an attachment, although the situation was resolved without paying any ransom.

Google has not commented on the restriction, nor has the FBI. Yahoo, however, has confirmed that it is working closely with government officials to resolve the situation. Google is likely doing the same, but it has not confirmed.


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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller


Chance currently writes for both 9to5Google and 9to5Mac, in addition to 9to5Toys.