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Cyberattack against state health department disrupts services

Alaska DHSS
Alaska DHSS(Alaska DHSS)
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 7:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some online services were disrupted this week when the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website was subject to a cyberattack, according to the department.

The state health department website dhss.alaska.gov was the target of a malware attack, DHSS said in a Tuesday evening press release. The department’s main website has been offline since Monday evening, according to the press release, while the department and appropriate authorities investigate the incident.

The site will remain unavailable to the public until more is known about the attack, but other online information hosted by outside sources, like the state’s coronavirus response hub, are still available.

DHSS reported a sizable list of affected services, including the state’s vital records system, background check system, the system for schools to report vaccine data, the Alaska provider vaccine exchange, epidemiological bulletins and several portals through which the public can request various information or waivers.

“At this time, there are no details about who initiated the attack, why they targeted DHSS, whether this attack is related to any other recent attacks, or how long the website may be down,” the department said in the release.

The department has not yet determined whether any personal or confidential information was compromised by the cyberattack, the release states.

“As is common with an investigation into this type of cyberattack, this one is expected to take some time to fully understand the full scope and impact of the incident,” the release states.

Now, the department is working to prevent further damage to any of its servers, systems or databases, according to the release.

This is the second cyberattack on a state agency this month. In early May, the Alaska Court System took several services offline after experiencing a cybersecurity attack.

Those who need assistance from DHSS can call 907-269-7800 during business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

“Unfortunately, this type of malicious attack is part of the cost of conducting any kind of business online as there are constant threats from people worldwide trying to infiltrate IT systems,” DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum is quoted as saying in the press release. “I want to assure Alaskans that our department is doing everything possible to get our website back up and running safely and to understand the scope of the attack, its impacts, and how to prevent this from happening in the future.”

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