HHS States System Is Safe After Supposed Cyberattack

F.J. Thomas

Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – According to a recent NextGov report, the head of Health and Human Services (HHS) is assuring the American public after a Bloomberg report stated that the HHS website received millions of hits within a few hours, with the intent to shut the website down. Officials suspected the attack was related to a fake message that was being circulated stating that President Trump was mandating a national quarantine for the entire country.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar confirmed during a recent news briefing that the government systems were unharmed stating, “Fortunately we have extremely strong barriers, we had no penetration into our networks, we had no degradation of the functioning of our network, we had no limitation in our capacity for people to telework.”

Additionally, HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley stated that the agency had already ramped up their protection efforts in response to COVID-19.

Although HHS did not issue a formal news statement in their media releases, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) confirmed they are assisting HHS in their increased efforts to maintain system integrity.

With a worldwide pandemic from COVID-19, it’s no surprise that governmental agencies might see an increase in cyberattacks. In February, Comparitech released a report on the number of Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations. While HHS only reports on cyberattacks if they impact 500 or more patient records, Comparitech’s report dug a little deeper and as far back as 2016 to get a more accurate picture of the impacts of cyberattacks.

The report found that 74 percent of cyberattacks were healthcare systems, followed by elder care providers at 7 percent, optometry practices at 6 percent, and IT suppliers at 5 percent. Insurance providers only accounted for 2 percent of breaches, and governmental agencies accounted for 1 percent.

The state with the highest percentage of the cyberattacks in the report was California with 14.5 percent. However, Michigan had the highest number of patients impacted at 1.1 million records breached. By comparison, California’s attacks involved 753,000 patient records. Puerto Rico also had a high number of patient records that were involved in cyberattacks at 522,000 which correlated to 16.36 percent of the population affected by a cyberattack.

You can the full report complete with State breakdown and cost on the Comparitech website.

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