The US Health and Human Services (HHS) Department allegedly fell victim to a cyberattack on Sunday night (March 15), according to a Bloomberg report. The hack, which comes as the US fights an ever-increasing coronavirus outbreak, involved the spreading of misinformation about a “national quarantine” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs, who first caught wind of the breach via three sources familiar with the matter, the cyberattack “appears to have been intended to slow the agency’s systems down” – but did not have much success.
In response to the incident, the National Security Council posted a tweet shortly before midnight, stating: “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.”
Bloomberg reports the breach, which doesn’t appear to have involved the exfiltration of any data, included a bombardment of the HHS servers with millions of attacks over several hours on Sunday evening.
Senior Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, were alerted to the cyber breach. According to the Bloomberg sources, officials are assuming blame on a hostile foreign actor, but no-one has yet confirmed who was behind the attack.
Neither HHS, the White House nor the National Security Council have yet released any official comment on the incident.