DHS Official: Obamacare Website Has Had 16 Cyber-Assaults

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 11:08 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The Obamacare website has had about 16 cyber-assaults, including one that tried to crash the site -- a surprisingly small number considering that some federal websites gets hundreds daily, ABCNews.com reported Wednesday.

Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications in the Department of Homeland Security, told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that her agency had gotten "about 16 reports" of hacking attempts, which are under investigation.

Though the number for such a "high-profile target" may seem low, Robert Siciliano, a McAfee online security expert, told ABCNews.com it's likely the agency is reporting only "brute-force attacks."

"Little tiny ones that happen on a daily basis, like attempting to crack passwords, they may see them but they add up to nothing," he said. "They're probably reporting significant brute-force attacks that could put data at risk."

In comparison, the DHS website logged about "228,700 cyber-incidents" during the last fiscal year, a DHS official told ABCNews.com.

That averages about 626 attacks a day "involving federal agencies, critical infrastructure, and the department's industry partners," the officials said.

"The fact there was only 16 is surprising," the official said. "Maybe those 16 are the documented ones. Due to the fact there are consumers punching in personal identifying info, that makes it a very attractive target."

During her testimony Wednesday, Stempfley said at least one of the attempts involved a Distributed Denial of Service, in which a hacker tries to flood a website with junk inquiries until it overloads and crashes the servers.

It didn't succeed, she said without elaborating on the hacking techniques used in the other documented attempts and what, if any, damage was done.

Related stories:

Computer Security Expert McAfee: Obamacare a Hacker's Dream
Hacked Attorney: No One Should Use Obamacare Website



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