HHS chief refutes cyberattack, says added security is in place

The leader of HHS Alex Azar told the public March 16 that hackers did not penetrate the department’s systems after reports of a cyberattack that aimed at slowing officials’ response to the novel coronavirus, according to Nextgov.

“In the previous 24 hours we saw a great deal of enhanced activity with relation to the HHS computer systems and website,” Mr. Azar told reporters during a White House briefing, Nextgov reports. “Fortunately, we have extremely strong barriers. We had no penetration into our networks, we had no degradation of the functioning of our network, we had no limitation in our capacity for people to telework.”

Mr. Azar was responding to reports that hackers attempted to slow the agency’s systems by overloading HHS’ servers with millions of hits over the span of several hours March 15.

“HHS has an IT infrastructure with risk-based security controls continuously monitored in order to detect and address cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley, according to Nextgov. “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.”

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, HHS has enhanced its cybersecurity to protect against threats.

More articles on cybersecurity:
State-by-state breakdown of ransomware attacks on healthcare providers
5 recent data breaches caused by human error
Indiana hospital alerts 2,600 patients of human error data breach

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