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 state is suspected in the attack, the administration hasn’t yet confirmed who it was, according to a U.S. official.
“We had no penetration into our networks, we had no degradation of the functioning of our networks,” Health and Human Services Secretary
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 familiar with the matter. They requested anonymity to discuss details of the sensitive incident.
An HHS spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency had “put extra protections in place” as it prepared to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” said the spokeswoman,
Just before midnight on Sunday, the
Officials believe the message -- spread by text, email and social media -- was related to the HHS cyber attack, one of the people said. Trump didn’t propose a mandatory quarantine on Monday, even as he urged Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people and to stop eating out at restaurants and going to bars.
Secretary of State
(Updates with Secretary Azar’s comment in fifth paragraph)
--With assistance from
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