The U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) reportedly suffered a cyber-attack on its computer system Sunday night during the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The attack appears to have been intended to slow the agency’s systems down, but did not do so in any meaningful way, said three people familiar with the matter.
The National Security Council (NSC) 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 tweet was in part meant to address the hacking, which involved multiple incidents. It does not appear that the hackers took any data from the systems.
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.