Rep. Mike Rogers: Probe Belarus Ties to Obamacare Site

Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 10:32 PM

By Todd Beamon and Drew MacKenzie

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House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers has demanded an immediate security investigation of the Obamacare website after U.S. intelligence agencies warned it was vulnerable to cyber-attacks following a shocking disclosure that Belarus software developers helped build the system.

But U.S. health officials said late Tuesday that their investigation had found no evidence of any of software being written in the former Soviet republic, contrary to what had been reported.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for President Barack Obama's National Security Council, said investigators for the Department of Health and Human Services had "found no indications that any software was developed in Belarus."

Rogers, a Michigan Republican, called for the investigation when queried by the Washington Free Beacon on Monday, especially given that Cheryl Campbell, a CGI Federal executive, told Congress last year that had been developed solely in the United States.

"We need an independent, thorough security evaluation of this site, and we need the commitment from the administration that the findings will be acknowledged and promptly addressed," Rogers told the Free Beacon.

"I continue to call on HHS to shut down and properly stress-test the site to ensure that consumers are protected from potential security risks from across the globe.", which covers 36 states lacking their own healthcare exchanges, has been plagued with technological and accessibility issues since the rollout of the Obamacare individual mandate in October. It has been taken down several times for repairs — and Capitol Hill legislators, both Republican and Democrat, have expressed concerns about the site's security.

U.S. intelligence agencies had warned HHS to check for malicious software, the Free Beacon reports.

Hayden confirmed that a U.S. intelligence agency had recently issued, then retracted, a report related to possible involvement by a Belarus company in writing the software.

Intelligence officials said the spokeswoman was referring to a U.S. security agency's report on an interview in which a Belarusian appeared to say that elements of the Obamacare website had been written by his organization.

In the interview with Radio Russia, dated June 25, 2013, Valery Tsepkalo, director of the government-backed High-Technology Park in Minsk, said: "One of our clients is the health ministry of the United States. We are being paid to help Obama with the healthcare reform."

It was unclear from the interview exactly what work the company was doing and what U.S. entity it was working with.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, a section of the HHS that oversees much of Obamacare, issued a statement on Tuesday that did not directly address the possibility that software may have been written in Belarus.

"To date, there have been no successful security attacks on and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information from the site," the statement said.

It said the site complied with federal rules and that independent security contractors found no problems when they completed a "security control assessment" in December.

According to the Free Beacon's report, an anonymous official was quoted as saying that "the U.S. Affordable Care Act software was written in part in Belarus by software developers under state control, and that makes the software a potential target for cyber-attacks."

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said on Tuesday that he had no knowledge of the withdrawn intelligence report about Belarus when asked about it during a congressional hearing.

His spokesman, Shawn Turner, said in an email that it was "an Open Source Center daily update that was recalled because it failed to meet internal requirements for classification review," Bloomberg News reports.

A U.S. official said intelligence officials were wary of widely circulating a summary based on uncorroborated media reporting that could cause serious concerns because it was not confident of its validity.

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