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Cyber-attackers have hacked the US Health and Human Services Department as America works hard to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 virus. 

The intrusion occurred on Sunday night and is thought to have been motivated by a desire to slow the agency down and spread misinformation among the public.

After compromising the department’s system, attackers circulated a false claim that the American government planned to introduce a nationwide lockdown.

The erroneous rumor that every American would be ordered to self-quarantine at home was quashed by the National Security Council. Just before midnight on Sunday, the NSC published the following statement on Twitter: “Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown. @CDCgov has and will continue to post the latest guidance on #COVID19.”

Earlier today, a spokesperson for the NSC said: “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.”

According to Bloomberg, the cyber-attack on the Department of Health and Human Services consisted of multiple incidents but is not believed to have resulted in the theft of any data. 

Bloomberg’s senior White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs said the multi-pronged assault on the health department included a DoS attack.

Writing on Twitter earlier today, Jacobs stated: “The hack yesterday involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours, sources tell me.”

Reporting on the intrusion earlier today, Bloomberg said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other Trump administration officials are aware of the incident.

No definitive proof has been found as to who perpetrated the multi-hack. Thoughts on where the attack may have originated are so far purely speculative. 

Commenting on the attack, Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “Suffering a cyber-attack in the midst of a pandemic adds salt to the wound when organizations are already at full stretch. 

“We all need to be more vigilant at the moment and take even more caution when communicating remotely.”



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