Report: Cyberattack Targets HHS Coronavirus Response

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was the victim of a cyberattack Sunday aimed at slowing down the federal entity’s coronavirus response operations, news outlets reported, citing unnamed sources from President Donald Trump’s administration.

“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. … HHS and federal networks are functioning normally at this time,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council (NSC), told Bloomberg, which first reported the attack:

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government is still working to find out the nature and origin of the attack.

“U.S. officials have not yet confirmed who was behind the HHS hacking. The hack yesterday involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours,” Bloomberg learned from unnamed sources:

Unnamed administration sources confirmed Sunday’s cyberattack to ABC News.

Citing people familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reported that the alleged cyber intrusion failed to disrupt systems in a meaningful way, and hackers were not able to extract any information.

However, the event reportedly prompted the NSC to tweet about the dissemination of disinformation.

“The National Security Council’s tweet on Sunday night was related to HHS hacking and release of disinformation, per sources. The [government] realized Sunday that there had been a cyber intrusion and false information was circulating,” Jennifer Jacobs from Bloomberg wrote on Twitter:

“Text message rumors of a national [quarantine] are FAKE. There is no national lockdown. [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC] has and will continue to post the latest guidance on [the coronavirus outbreak],” the NSC warned via Twitter one Sunday.

John Cohen, a former top U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, noted that some transnational terrorists and criminal actors might be trying to take advantage of the attention devoted to the coronavirus pandemic to carry out attacks.

Cohen, also an ABC News contributor, said:

As federal state and local governments focus on handling the current public health crisis, national security officials are also tracking other threats — in particular those posed by terrorist or extremist groups and foreign adversaries who may seek to take advantage of all of the attention being focused on the coronavirus and conduct an attack.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic.

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