security

70,000 Obamacare records could be hacked in just four minutes, says security expert

Monday, February 03, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obamacare, security expert, Healthcare.gov

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(NaturalNews) A noted hacker who is one of the good guys and who owns a firm dedicated to finding security flaws in government and corporate websites says it recently took him all of four minutes to hack into Healthcare.gov, the federal government's online Obamacare exchange.

And what's more, the same expert had warned Congress previously that the site was insecure.

In a recent interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, hacking expert David Kennedy said that penetrating Healthcare.gov was pretty easy. In fact, Kennedy said he could gain access to 70,000 personal records of Obamacare enrollees through the site in four minutes - much quicker than it takes to enroll for insurance coverage through the glitch-prone site, which has already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions to develop.

'When you rush, security doesn't really get integrated'

"And 70,000 was just one of the numbers that I was able to go up to and I stopped after that," Kennedy said, adding he only used a standard browser. "You know, I'm sure it's hundreds of thousands, if not more, and it was done within about a 4 minute timeframe. So, it's just wide open."

He continued: "You can literally just open up your browser, go to this, and extract all this information without actually having to hack the website itself."

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Kennedy testified recently before Congress, telling a House panel that the Healthcare.gov site was "100 percent" insecure.

"What we learned was that they had rushed through what we call the software development life cycle where they actually build the application," he said on Fox.

"So when you do that, security doesn't really get integrated into it. And what happened with the rocky launch in October is they slapped a bunch of servers in trying to fix the website just to keep it up and running so that people could actually go and use it. The problem is they still didn't imbed any security into it," Kennedy said.

For its part, tech "experts" with the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - which is responsible for the operation of Healthcare.gov - recently told Congress that earlier security problems with the site have been identified and most of them have been fixed.

As reported by CBS News:

Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told members of the House Oversight Committee that before HealthCare.gov launched, she wasn't as confident about its security.

In September, "there was a level of uncertainty as to the known risks" Fryer said in a hearing before the committee, reiterating the points she made during a closed-door meeting with the committee last month. Given those concerns, she recommended to Health and Human Services officials in September that the ATO -- a document required for the HealthCare.gov's launch -- should not be signed. HHS officials overruled her recommendation and issued a temporary, six-month ATO.


'It's not just me that says it's not secure'

But since then, she testified, testing - which she said is being conducted routinely - has demonstrated that the site is much more secure.

"Given the positive results of the recent security control assessments... I would recommend [HealthCare.gov] be given a new authority to operate" when the current ATO expires, she told the congressional panel.

But she did so with this caveat: One can "never guarantee any system is hack-proof," though she also noted that "the protections we have put in place have successfully prevented attacks."

Kennedy was adamant, however, about the site's continued security flaws. And he says other experts agree.

"It's not just myself that's saying this website is insecure, it's also seven other independent security researchers that also looked at the research I've done and came to the exact same conclusion," he told Fox.

Sources:

http://www.washingtontimes.com

http://dailycaller.com

http://freebeacon.com

http://www.cbsnews.com

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