The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $350,000 to help its partners in the health care and public health sectors ward off cyberattacks.

This funding comes in the form of two cooperative agreements that will establish a “more vibrant cyber information sharing ecosystem” between partners. HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) awarded a cooperative agreement of $250,000 to the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NH-ISAC). NH-ISAC will use the money to provide cyber threat information to health care sector stakeholders. HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) awarded a second contract to NH-ISAC. This contract, worth $100,000, tasks NH-ISAC with building infrastructure to spread threat information to health care partners.

“These agreements mark a critical first step toward addressing the growing threat cybersecurity poses to the health care and public health sector,” said Nicole Lurie, HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response, in a news post on the agency website. “Creating a more robust exchange about cybersecurity threats will help the industry prevent, detect and respond to these threats and better protect patients’ privacy and personally identifiable information.”

The agreements will enable HHS to send cyber threat information to one entity, which will then disseminate the message to others. According to the website post, these protective measures are the result of increased cyberattacks in recent years. HHS said breaches cost health care entities $3.8 million per attack.

“The security of electronic health information is foundational to our increasingly digitized health system,” said Vindell Washington, national coordinator for health information technology. “This funding will help health care organizations of all sizes more easily and effectively share information about cyber threats and responses in order to protect their data and the health of their patients.”

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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.