Health and Human Services Department Hit With Cyberattack Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Alex Brandon/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department suffered a cyber-attack on its computer system, part of what people familiar with the incident called a campaign of disruption and disinformation that was aimed at undermining the response to the coronavirus pandemic and may have been the work of a foreign actor.

“We are aware of a cyber incident related to the Health and Human Services computer networks, and the federal government is investigating this incident thoroughly,” John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. “HHS and federal government cybersecurity professionals are continuously monitoring and taking appropriate actions to secure our federal networks.”

He said “HHS and federal networks are functioning normally at this time.”

While a foreign actor is suspected in the attack, the administration hasn’t yet confirmed who was behind it, according to a U.S. official.

The attack, which involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours, didn’t succeed in slowing the agency’s systems significantly, as was apparently intended, according to one of the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss details of the sensitive incident.

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SOURCE: Bloomberg, Shira Stein and Jennifer Jacobs