Cyberattack hits US health department amid coronavirus

KONFRONTASI - The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a key part of the federal response to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, was hit by a cyberattack on Sunday night, a Bloomberg reporter said on Twitter.

The reporter, in a tweet on Monday, cited unnamed sources who said there were multiple hacking incidents that appeared aimed at slowing down the department’s systems.

“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,” John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement.

An HHS spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency had “put extra protections in place” as it prepared to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The attack, which involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours, didn’t succeed in slowing the agency’s systems significantly, as was apparently intended, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

Officials across the US curtailed many elements of American life to fight the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, with health officials recommending that groups of 50 or more don’t get together and a government expert saying a 14-day national shutdown may be needed.

US states pleaded with the Trump administration on Monday to mount a coordinated national response to the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of workers and students stayed home to slow the spread of the outbreak.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday and has championed his government’s response. Democratic leaders have criticized him for downplaying the crisis and issuing misleading or false statements.

Trump sought to calm a jittery nation by declaring the government has “tremendous control” over the situation and urging people to stop the panic buying of grocery staples that has depleted store shelves nationwide.

More than 4,100 people in the United States have been confirmed as being infected with the fast-spreading virus, prompting fears U.S. hospitals will soon be overrun similar to medical centers in Italy.

(Source: Agencies)