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HHS Warns of Cyberattacks Exploiting Coronavirus Outbreak

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is warning providers of the possibility of cyber criminals exploiting the new coronavirus (2019-nCOV) outbreak to attack computer systems.

These attacks are in the form of “phishing” emails, purporting to be from a trusted source, that attempt to deceive the recipient into opening an attachment or accessing a link. Phishing schemes can be used to access personal information or install malware on the recipient’s system.

In the case of 2019-nCOV, HHS notes that cybercriminals could send emails purporting to contain infection prevention information in an attached document. HHS reports that cybercriminals already have sent these types of phishing emails to users in Japan, urging them to open an attached Microsoft Word document. HHS warns that phishing emails also could have PDF or MP4 attachments that, when clicked, will download malicious software to access user information.

America’s Essential Hospitals has established a resource page on IT security for essential hospitals. Visit this page for new information and updates.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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