Cybersecurity ethics issues plague HHS: 5 things to know

Julie Spitzer -

Vacancies at HHS are feeding into the nation's healthcare cybersecurity struggles, Politico reports.

Here are five things to know.

1. The Health Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center faced an administration shake-up in September when its executive, Leo Scanlon, was put on leave and his deputy, Maggie Amato, left the government. Now, the agency is investigating irregularities and possible fraud in contracts the two executives signed.

2. However, Mr. Scanlon —  deputy HHS chief technology officer —  and Ms. Amato —  director of the center —  allege they were targeted by some private sector companies worried the HCCIC would take away responsibilities from their businesses.

3. Their departures, though, have halted the center's work, concerning a number of healthcare officials at a time when cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and complex.

4. James Routh, the chair of a private sector group called NH-ISAC that distributes information about digital attacks to its healthcare customers, said the situation at the center is "a step backwards." He added that the HCCIC "had solid, strong leadership and now it doesn't. The industry is hurt by that."

5. HHS claims activity at its cyber center is continuing. An official said the center was likely to focus outreach on small and rural practices that may need more assistance due to budgeting constraints.

More articles on cybersecurity:  

Equifax spends $87.5M on data breach, profits tank 27% following incident

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