Factbox: Personal email account policies at U.S. agencies

Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:42pm EDT

(Reuters) - The government on Thursday was assessing whether security was compromised after Google Inc said hackers from central China tried to hack personal Gmail accounts used by senior officials.

The Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House and related offices, blocks access to outside email services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail on its networks within the complex. Other agencies also have firewalls to block access.

Here is what various government departments and agencies said about their policies on personal email accounts:

FEDERAL RESERVE

"Board officials and employees are not allowed to use personal email accounts for business purposes," a Fed spokesman said. "We're not aware of any problems."

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

The Justice Department declined to say whether Attorney General Eric Holder was a target of the hack or whether he has external email accounts. However, Holder is a gadget aficionado and loves talking about his iPad.

Employees at the main Justice Department headquarters are allowed access to external email accounts like Gmail and some employees keep their smartphones on their desks.

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

"The SEC does not use Gmail, and the agency's email system blocks employees from accessing any personal Gmail accounts they may have," said spokesman John Nester.

COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

The CFTC only has email accounts for work and have firewalls to stop access to Gmail and other personal email accounts, an agency spokesman said.

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

"We do not use Gmail for any agency business," said NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner, who said he was not aware of any attacks on personal Gmail accounts held by officials who work for the U.S. nuclear safety regulator.

The agency's firewall does not block access to Gmail or other personal email services that use a webmail portal, and its policies allow employees to check personal email on an occasional basis, he said.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett, Roberta Rampton, Jeremy Pelofsky, Christopher Doering, Mark Felsenthal and Sarah Lynch in Washington; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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