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.
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.
The National Security Council tweeted just before midnight: “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.”
The NSC tweet was related to the hacking and the release of disinformation, according to one of the people. The government realized Sunday that there had been a cyber intrusion and false information was circulating.
The hacking involved multiple incidents.
The tweet was in part meant to address the hacking, which involved multiple incidents. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and other Trump administration officials are aware of the incident, one of the people said.
It doesn’t appear that the hackers took any data from the systems, one of the people said. Administration officials assume that it was a hostile foreign actor, but there is no definitive proof at this time.
The administration has not yet confirmed who was behind the attack, according to a U.S. official. The hack involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours.
Paul Nakasone, who leads the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, is looking into the situation, one of the people said.
HHS did not immediately respond to request for comment. White House and National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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