[Ed. – While not an attempted intrusion per se, the attack, if successful, could have hampered HHS operations in the coronavirus response. Effectively, it was an attack on the United States. Lack of success suggests to me that it may have been an actor like Iran, or even a non-state actor. U.S. officials haven’t fingered anyone for it.]
The suspicious activity HHS was not a hack but it may have been a distributed denial of service — or DDOS — attack, according to multiple sources.
The distinction is important because there was no apparent breach of the HHS system, which could interfere with critical functions of the lead agency responding to the coronavirus contagion. A DDOS effort enlists automated users — called bots — to overwhelm a public-facing system in order to slow it down or even paralyze it.
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Officials believe any coordinated effort against HHS — if there was one — was not particularly successful and are satisfied that the system was not significantly affected.