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Sixteen Failed Hacker Attacks On Obamacare Site So Far

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

From dire warnings of identity theft by McAfee founder John McAfee in early October, to just being a great site for target practice by hackers and politicians, the Obamacare Healthcare.gov website has been under siege since its October 1st launch almost two months ago.

Server issues, poor management, 404 errors, and other problems have reportedly plagued the site. But, on a positive note, it was reported by CNN yesterday that hackers have tried, and failed, to hack the site over a dozen times.

According to the CNN report, "We received about 16 reports from HHS that are under investigation and one open source report about a denial of service," according to Acting Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Roberta Stempfley of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications.

A Denial of Service (DoS) app has been reported on by several different news and media sites but it apparently had nothing to do with the 16 reports from HHS; it doesn't have the horsepower to actually have any significant effect on the site, and was apparently more for show than use since no one believes it's actually been used.  But, with a name like "Destroy Obama Care" attached to it, it's not surprising it's showing up in the media.

A white hat, ethical hacker was brought in by the Health and Human Services CIO to perform penetration testing to test the sites defenses.  Although there was a mention that the hacker found several items related to attempted security breaches, there was no mention about their severity.

Depending on which media source you read, the Obama Administration believes/doesn't believe the site will/won't operate perfectly by November 30th which is the next target date for the site to be (mostly) operational. Regardless of who you believe, the rebuilding is continuing.   To assist with that rebuilding, the government has received some high caliber support in the form of Google, Oracle, and Red Hat employees who reportedly joined the effort to help fix the health insurance exchange site earlier this month.  No word on exactly how much progress they've made.

About the Author

Bill Oliver has been working in Healthcare for the past 30+ years in a variety of management roles including Material Management, Purchasing, Nurse Registry, and IT. In the past 12 years his focus has been on the business end of IT Contracts, Software Licensing and Purchasing.

More by Bill Oliver

Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you're on, if you look at this purely from an IT perspective, you'd have to admit that anyone with a techie background could have predicted that a rollout of this magnitude would have problems.  Also, as more users hit the site, the more stress will be placed on the network, the servers, the software, etc. and more problems are going to be uncovered.  

There's a deadline coming up on December 15th for people who want to sign up for coverage beginning January 1st. That will likely be a decent stress test for the system since it's human nature to put off making decisions until the last minute (for example, how many people pay their taxes at 11:59 on April 15th?)

So, while hackers are always a concern, for the moment, hackers are probably not at the very top of the list of things the site developers and engineers are going to worry about.

Optimistically with some of the high powered help working 7/24 (you know IT people, they do their best work at 3AM), things will go a bit more smoothly when all of the late comers show up on the site looking to sign up for insurance coverage.

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