Broker Check

The Other Pandemic

March 19, 2020

While we are rightly worried about COVID-19 and searching the Internet for updates, there is another pandemic going on - hackers targeting websites to disrupt and spread misinformation.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was hacked Sunday night. The hacker's identity is unknown, but the object was to disrupt the government's attempt to inform the public. The attackers posted a false claim that a nationwide lockdown would be declared; this has been denied by the National security Council. The hackers also conducted a denial of service attack by flooding the site with emails.

At a time when most of us are cooperating in trying to keep COVID-19 under control, it's disheartening to realize there are people with the opposite intention. Government websites should be our best source of information, but some people would rather make them vehicles of disinformation and panic. (This is not a new problem; the website was hacked last summer.) Besides the hackers, there are websites and individuals spreading misinformation and false rumors, either out of ignorance or malevolence.

Since we know that cyber breaches are a fact of life today, be prepared for more of these attacks. Don't over-react to every post (to rephrase an old saying, if it looks too bad to be true, it probably is).Don't share unverified information. Above all, don't panic.