Pandemic Advances Cybersecurity Efforts at HHS as Agency Becomes Bigger Target, CISO Says

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is embracing a new cybersecurity routine after the ongoing public health crisis placed a new target on the agency and malicious actors boosted their efforts to infiltrate the agency and access sensitive data, HHS CISO Janet Vogel said this week.

Vogel said the agency’s cybersecurity benefitted from the department’s under-the-radar status prior to the coronavirus pandemic.  The health crisis, however, brought unwelcomed attention from adversaries.

Mark Kuhr, CTO and co-founder of Synack, emphasized the importance of combatting threats like the ones Vogel mentioned. Since the switch to widespread remote work in March, according to Kuhr, there’s been an uptick in email-based threats and malicious phishing attempts that strategies like network transparency and remote authentication can help protect against.

“Hackers are trying to get in through your network devices and your external applications, but we’ve definitely seen in the last January to April period a huge spike in the number of spam messages and emails with malicious URLs that mimic either health authorities or impersonating government or impersonating partners,” Kuhr warned. “It’s certainly a common attack vector.”

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