Tags: Healthcare Reform | obamacare | website | security | test

Obamacare Website Ditched Final Security Test Before Launch

Image: Obamacare Website Ditched Final Security Test Before Launch

Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 10:08 AM

By Lisa Barron

While millions of Americans are still having trouble buying health insurance on the Obamacare website, new evidence shows that if and when HealthCare.gov does work, it may be riddled with security problems.

A document released from the House Oversight Committee shows the government knowingly launched the website with what was believed to be a high security risk, reports CBS News.

As HealthCare.gov was being developed, crucial tests to ensure the security and privacy of customer information fell behind schedule, with the deadline for final security plans slipping three times from May 6 to July 16, according to reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

Security assessments to be finished June 7 slid to Aug. 16 and then Aug. 23, and the final, required top-to-bottom security tests apparently never got done.

The Obama administration memo released by the House Oversight Committee reportedly shows that four days before the launch, the government took the unusual step of granting itself a waiver to launch the site with "a level of uncertainty deemed as a high [security] risk."

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, accepted the risk as long as there would be frequent testing and a dedicated security team, said Attkisson, but three other officials signed a statement saying "that does not reduce the risk of launching Oct. 1."

Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin, who helped Congress write the Affordable Care Act to meet constitutional standards, has criticized the site launch without proper security in place, telling CBS, "Nothing can undermine public confidence more than the fear of a security and privacy breach. You can have someone hack into the system, get your Social Security number, get your financial information."

There have, in fact, already been security issues. The Heritage Foundation reported over the weekend that when North Carolina resident Justin Hadley logged into his HealthCare.gov account, he discovered personal information contained in letters addressed to two other people, including a South Carolina attorney named Thomas Dougall.

Hadley wrote to Heritage and contacted the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers HealthCare.gov. So far, according to Heritage, he has had no response from the agency.

Hadley also reached out to Dougall to let him know about the breach. Dougall later spoke to local TV station News 48, saying, "We're told constantly that it's a secure system and it's not, obviously."

On Monday, Dougall told Breitbart that although he had also contacted HHS, he had not had a response from the agency, either. "I have not heard anything from HHS other than their reply to the local affiliate that I should use the online chat room or the toll-free number. The person on the chat line refused to accept my contact information and told me I had to contact the FTC to report the problem," he said, adding, "I was on hold for almost an hour on the phone and gave that up."

Dougall also pointed out that while Hadley, who received his information, wasn't doing anything wrong, "what is going to happen when real hackers start attacking the system?"

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