The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was the victim of a cyberattack on Sunday as the federal government attempts to deal with the coronavirus crisis, according to a report from Bloomberg.
What We Know:
- According to the news outlet there were multiple incidents of hacking, and secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other Trump administration officials were aware of the cyberattack. The incident reportedly included overloading the Health and Human Services Department’s servers with millions of hits over several hours.
- Citing three people familiar with the incident who wished to remain anonymous, Bloomberg reported that the attack was intended to slow down the agency’s servers by overloading them with millions of hits over a period of several hours.
- “HHS has an IT infrastructure with risk-based security controls continuously monitored in order to detect and address cyber threats and vulnerabilities. On Sunday we became aware of a significant increase in activity on HHS cyber infrastructure and are fully operational as we actively investigate the matter. Early on while preparing and responding to COVID-19, HHS put extra protections in place. We are coordinating with federal law enforcement and remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our infrastructure.” – Caitlin Oakley, HHS spokesperson
- Marty Puranik, a cybersecurity expert and CEO of Atlantic.Net told International Business Times, “It’s unfortunate that HHS would be attacked during a pandemic. Luckily it slowed but didn’t break or compromise anything.”
- “This shows the hackers will take advantage of any situation, even global emergencies to profit for themselves and the importance of realizing that attackers will try to take advantage of you when the chips are down,” Puranik said.
Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown. @CDCgov has and will continue to post the latest guidance on #COVID19. #coronavirus
— NSC 45 Archived (@WHNSC45) March 16, 2020
- The tweet was related to the hacking and to the release of disinformation after the government learned of the cyberattack and the circulation of false information, one of the sources told Bloomberg. As such, the tweet was partly intended to respond to the hacking, which involved multiple incidents
- Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other Trump administration officials are aware of the incident, one of the sources said. The incident is being investigated by Paul Nakasone, the head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, Bloomberg reported.
If you happen to get a text claiming something big – like a national quarantine – make sure to confirm the source, and always double-check any suspect messages with trusted organizations like the CDC and WHO.