Maryland health department website goes offline after apparent cyberattack

The Maryland Department of Health’s website went offline over the weekend, and instead redirected visitors to the state’s general government website after a network security breach, a department official said.

The outage was first reported by The Washington Post on Sunday evening. Their reporting suggests the outage is the result of a ransomware attack, though the extent of the invasion is not yet known.

Andy Owen, spokesman for the health department, told WTOP that the Maryland Security Operations Center is in the process of “investigating a network security incident.”

“The Maryland Department of Information Technology, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Maryland Department of Emergency Management are working closely with federal and state law enforcement partners to address the incident and to gather additional information. Certain systems have been taken offline out of an abundance of caution and other precautions have and will be taken,” Owen said.

The announcement followed reports of outages on the health services page, which remained offline on Sunday. Some outlets reported limited access to updated coronavirus data from the state website as well.

Owens told WTOP that the investigation into this security incident, just days after Maryland confirmed it’s first three cases of the omicron variant, will continue to be investigated.

“The investigation is ongoing, potentially affected employees and partners have been informed, and we will provide additional information as circumstances warrant,” Owen said.

The department did not clarify when the health website would be back online, the details of the other precautions taken or what data it believes to be of concern. They also did not explicitly state that they were undergoing a ransomware attack.

WTOP’s Juan Herrera and Ivy Lyons contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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