The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Cyberattack freezes Maryland health department

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A cyberattack took Maryland’s health department offline this weekend, as officials worked to assess the extent of the intrusion.

“The Maryland Security Operations Center is investigating a network security incident involving the Maryland Department of Health,” Andy Owen, a department spokesman, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Certain systems have been taken offline out of an abundance of caution and other precautions have and will be taken.”

Owen said that state officials were coordinating with federal and state law enforcement, and that the investigation is ongoing. He declined to say whether the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic had been affected by the cyberattack.

A spokesperson for the office of Gov. Larry Hogan (R) referred questions to the health department.

The Department of Health’s webpage on Sunday was rerouted to the state’s flagship webpage, www.maryland.gov, as officials went through individual systems to determine whether any information had been stolen.

Meanwhile, dozens of health department services and resources were unavailable, including pages that invited Maryland residents to apply for Medicaid, get data on local nursing home safety and order free at-home testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Ankit Gupta, a health-care executive, said that he was frustrated with the state’s resources being offline, including information about the Medicaid program.

“I was trying to research how they pay for opioid addiction treatment for my company, Bicycle Health,” Gupta told The Washington Post.

The cyberattack comes as local health officials continue to grapple with the pandemic and plan for potential new threats. Maryland health officials on Friday announced that three cases of omicron had been detected in the Baltimore metro area, the first evidence that the new coronavirus variant has reached the Washington region.

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