Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee want the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is handling cybersecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said in an October 9 letter.

The letter – sent by Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Co.), and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) – emphasizes that the committee wants to better understand how HHS is handling malicious actors and disruptions during a crucial time for healthcare.

“These incidents and others like them, pose a serious challenge to the agency’s ongoing efforts to provide timely services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, protecting HHS computing operations during the pandemic response is paramount to the nation’s security, economic wellbeing, and public trust,” the members of Congress said.

Citing an August MeriTalk article on increased threats to HHS during the COVID-19 pandemic, the representatives expressed their concern that the department could be at increased risk compared to other Federal agencies.

“Emerging cyber threats, such as the advanced persistent threat groups that exploited COVID-19 in early 2020, underscore the importance of effectively protecting information systems supporting the agency,” the committee members said.

The GAO report should include details about the broader cyber posture at HHS, but focus in on threat intelligence information that the agency uses, the committee members said.

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