Security concerns about HealthCare.gov are overblown, Democrats say

HHS officials report just 32 security incidents since the site has launched

Security concerns raised by Republican critics of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' botched rollout of HealthCare.gov have been overstated, according to a memo released Friday by two Democratic members of Congress.

HHS officials, in a briefing to lawmakers this week, reported just 32 security incidents at HealthCare.gov since its Oct. 1 launch, and "there have been no successful security attacks," said the memo from Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado.

The briefing was "reassuring," the lawmakers wrote. "The security of Healthcare.gov has not been breached, and hackers have had no access to personally identifiable information. HHS officials indicated that they were conducting 24-7 system monitoring and ongoing assessments in order to ensure and strengthen system security."

But it's concerning that HHS officials have found so few security incidents, said a spokeswoman for Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who has questioned the site's security. Websites of comparable size to HealthCare.gov averaged more than 230 security incidents a day in the past year, said spokeswoman Kelsey Knight.

The lack of reported security incidents "is more concerning to us," she said. "That report shows that there's no system monitoring."

A cybersecurity expert has pointed out one security flaw at the site that could lead to phishing exploits, said Knight, whose boss is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Eleven of the 32 security events remained under investigation as of Wednesday, Waxman and DeGette wrote in the memo.

Security investigators at HHS classified one of the remaining 21 events as an unsuccessful probe of the site and two incidents as inappropriate use of the site in violation of acceptable use policies. One of those two incidents was a denial-of-service attempt using malware called Destroy Obamacare, the memo said. Obamacare is the common name for the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform law that created HealthCare.gov.

Security investigators classified 15 of the incidents as unauthorized access, in which a website user gained unauthorized access to information. Those cases "were isolated in nature" and generally involved software bugs, the memo said. In one case that's been publicized, one user's personal information was shared with another user, the memo said, but "none of these events involved a significant breach of personal information."

In addition, security researchers ultimately decided two other events turned out to be "non-incidents," the memo said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags Government use of ITHealthcare.govU.S. Department of Health and Human Serviceshealth careU.S. CongressKelsey Knightinternetindustry verticalsMike RogersgovernmentDiana DeGetteHenry Waxman

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?