security

Obamacare website 'crazy vulnerable' to hackers, security risks

Saturday, January 18, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obamacare, Healthcare.gov, security risks

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(NaturalNews) It's not just glitch-prone and vague about important components of health insurance coverage, like how much it will cost. But the federal online Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov, is also a wet dream for hackers, despite the millions spent to "fix" it.

That's the diagnosis of a number of Web security experts who have examined the site from a hacker's perspective (these are the good guys, by the way) and found it disturbingly open to identity theft, among other calamities, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon:

The Obamacare insurance marketplace is even more vulnerable to security breaches since the administration "fixed" Healthcare.gov, according to a cyber security expert.

Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report
[recently] following its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to repair the website, saying that the "team has knocked more than 400 bug fixes and software improvements off the punch list."

The administration said that the "site capacity is stable at its intended level," though the site continued to crash....


So much for the 'security' fixes

HHS's eight-page report said nothing about the site's extensive number of security flaws - flaws that experts noted put at risk the personal information of anyone who uses it.

"It doesn't appear that any security fixes were done at all," David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Beacon.

The "white hat" security expert (white hat refers to a hacker who uses their skill to test a company's websites, to find security flaws) said a number of basic security safeguards missing from Healthcare.gov that his firm identified more than a month ago still have not been implemented.

"There are a number of security concerns already with the website, and that's without even actually hacking the site, that's just a purely passive analysis of [it]," he said. "We found a number of critical exposures that were around sensitive information, the ability to hack into the site, things like that. We reported those issues and none of those appear to have been addressed at all."

Kennedy, during a congressional testimony on Nov. 19, warned Americans to stay away from the site. He told the Beacon that, since issuing his warning, the site has only gotten worse, security-wise.

"They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes," he said. "When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs - they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit - you're introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don't even check that code."

"I'm a little bit more skeptical now, and I would still definitely advise individuals to not use the website because it's definitely something that I don't believe is secure and neither did the four individuals that testified in front of Congress," Kennedy said. "I think there's some major security concerns there around privacy and information, and they haven't even come close to being addressed, and won't be in the short term."

Top searches performed by hackers

In addition to discovering security flaws with the federal exchange, there were delinquencies found in the 14 state exchanges as well. In fact, a breach has already been reported in Vermont; a user was granted access to another user's Social Security number.

"That's a whole other front of hacking," Kennedy said. "That's what's actually going to contain all the sensitive information for residents in those states."

"States are required to notify in the event of a breach, the federal government is not," he noted. "So in the event that Healthcare.gov gets compromised and all their information gets taken out of it they don't have to notify anybody."

Kennedy predicted that the contracted team working on the federal exchange was more likely to hide the site's security discrepancies than fix them after it was revealed that the most popular searches on the site were hacking attempts.

"The top results were hacker attempts," Kennedy said. "Their fix for it wasn't, 'Hey let's restrict people from inputting malicious code into the website,' - because that's how hackers break into websites - it was, 'we're just going to completely disable that entire function completely, and not even show the search results back.'"

Sources:

http://freebeacon.com

http://www.theguardian.com

http://www.hhs.gov

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