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U.S. Health agency hit with cyber-attack amid COVID-19 crisis

The cyber-attack was first reported Monday morning by Bloomberg, which said the attack had been intended to slow the health agency’s response time to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Later in the morning, administration sources confirmed to ABC News that the cyber-assault targeting HHS was not a hack but a distributed denial of service — or DDOS — attack. There is an important distinction between a DDOS and a cyber-attack. With a DDOS attack, there was no apparent breaching of the HHS system, which is good.

Instead, the DDOS effort apparently had automated users called bots – trying to overwhelm the public-facing HHS system in order to slow it down or even paralyze it.

“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, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council (NSC), said in a statement, according to The Hill.


“HHS and federal government cybersecurity professionals are continuously monitoring and taking appropriate actions to secure our federal networks. HHS and federal networks are functioning normally at this time.”

“As federal state and local governments focus on handling the current public health crisis, national security officials are also tracking other threats — in particular those posed by terrorist or extremist groups and foreign adversaries who may seek to take advantage of all of the attention being focused on the coronavirus and conduct an attack,” said John Cohen, a former acting Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security and contributor to ABC News.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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