The Department of Health and Human Services faced what its leaders described as a significant increase in cyber activity as officials were working to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“On Sunday, we became aware of a significant increase in activity on HHS cyber infrastructure and are fully operational as we actively investigate the matter," HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said in a statement March 16.
HHS is one of the critical agencies responding to the outbreak, which has now infected over 3,700 people in the United States and killed 70.
As the agency prepared its, HHS put “extra protections in place" on its IT infrastructure, Oakley said, but did not offer specific details.
The incident was first reported by Bloomberg.
In August last year, the Office of Management and Budget released a report that showed federal agencies faced 31,000 cyber incidents in fiscal 2018, down from 35,000 the previous year.
Oakley said that the department is working with federal law enforcement on the investigation and continues to “remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the integrity of our IT infrastructure.”