The troubled rollout of Healthcare.gov, the website established as part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA), also known as Obamacare, has been a top headline since the website’s debut. But it turns out that the Obama administration may not be entirely at fault.
The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that Healthcare.gov has been hit by as many as 16 cyberattacks from hackers. Authorities have also spotted a tool available for download that’s designed to hit Healthcare.gov with a denial-of-service attack, which would flood the Obamacare website with more requests than it could handle, though there’s no evidence that a DoS attack has actually taken place.
The attacks were made between Nov. 6 and Nov. 8, but none were successful. The source of the attacks is now under investigation.
Marc Eisenbarth, a researcher for Arbor Networks, noticed the DoS tool available at a few different sites, and described it in a blog post. The DoS tool would put a strain on the AHA website by repeatedly alternating requests to https://www.healthcare.gov and https:www.healthcare.gov/contact-us addresses.
The DoS tool, however, seems rather poorly designed. Eisenbarth said that it is “unlikely to succeed in affecting the availability of the healthcare.gov site.”
It appears that the hackers developed the DoS too as a means to protest Obamacare, and included the following message with the program. The tool is even called “Destroy Obama Care.”
CNN reported that the Obama administration has employed a "white hat" hacker to test Healthcare.gov for vulnerabilities and evaluate the system’s defenses against hacker attacks. Chief Information Officer of Health and Human Services Frank Baitman said that the hacker found between seven and 10 weaknesses. Baitman said none were serious and most have been resolved.
Now the government needs to employ some Web designers to actually get Healthcare.gov running efficiently.