The Department of Health and Human Services came under a foreign cyberattack Sunday night as the agency continues to manage and respond to the Wuhan coronavirus.
"The U.S. Health and Human Services Department suffered a cyber-attack on its computer system Sunday night during the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to three people familiar with the matter," Bloomberg reports. "The attack appears to have been intended to slow the agency’s systems down, but didn’t do so in any meaningful way, said the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss an incident that was not public."
Fraudulent text messages about "CDC guidance" were also sent out Sunday night, prompting the National Security Council to warn about false, disinformation during a crisis.
HHS is led by Secretary Alex Azar, who plays a crucial role on the Wuhan coronavirus task force.
Was honored to stand with members of the U.S. Public Health Service #CommissionedCorps at the @WhiteHouse podium last night. They are America's public health heroes, bringing medical expertise and compassion to combat #COVID19. @HHS_ASH #USPHS #AmericasHealthResponders pic.twitter.com/0GCJHLoLv7— Secretary Alex Azar (@SecAzar) March 16, 2020
Lawmakers are issuing responses to the news, saying whoever is behind the attack will face consequences.
“Here’s the reality of 21st century conflict: cyberattacks are massive weapons to kick opponents when they’re down. At a time when Americans face uncertainty and fear from coronavirus, we should expect an increase in cyberattacks and stay vigilant. There need to be consequences for these kinds of attacks. We can’t take our eye off the ball," Republican Senator Ben Sasse released in a statement.