Security Expert Panel Unanimously Agrees HealthCare.gov is Insecure, Some Call for Site Shutdown
November 20, 2013 5:53 PM
If shut down, the site would take about seven to 12 months to fix
Security experts said that shutting the
website down entirely until all fixes are made would be in the best interest of consumers' private information.
According to a report from
, Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) asked four experts about the security of the healthcare site during a congressional hearing by the House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The experts consisted of two academics and two private sector technical researchers.
Collins asked the experts a series of questions during the hearing, but two in particular stood out: Is HealthCare.gov secure, and would they recommend shutting it down entirely until it's completely fixed?
As to whether the site is secure today or not, all four experts agreed that it is not as of today.
"The privacy and security of consumers' personal information are a top priority," said Jay Carney, White House spokesman. "When consumers fill out their online marketplace applications they can trust that the information that they are providing is protected by stringent security standards."
When asked if the site should be shut down, three of the experts said "yes" while the fourth said they'd need more information before they could give an answer.
However, if this were to happen, David Kennedy (head of computer security consulting firm TrustedSec LLC and a former U.S. Marine Corps cyber-intelligence analyst) said it would take about seven to 12 months to fix. This is due to the size of the site, which runs 500 million lines of code.
The federal government's health insurance marketplace --
-- has seen a load of technical issues since launch on October 1. It has been difficult for many uninsured Americans to browse the website and login, let alone select an insurance plan.
Republican investigators with the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled the emails in a recent investigation of the HealthCare.gov troubles.
Last month, Verizon's Terremark -- which hosts HealthCare.gov and allows uninsured Americans to both search and buy health insurance --
lost network connectivity
after a technical failure. The glitch also threw off a data services hub that connects a number of federal agencies and is used to verify people's identity, citizenship, etc. This verification is necessary to check if people are eligible for tax credits that cut the cost of monthly insurance premiums.
Microsoft offered its help
with HealthCare.gov's technical issues. The House Oversight Committee sent letters to others as well, such as Kayak and Verizon, looking for help.
President Barack Obama has called the website glitches
It recently surfaced that HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao sent an email out about the site's main contractor -- CGI Federal -- on July 16, which is being seen as an early warning that the October 1 launch of HealthCare.gov
might not go so well
"I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash the plane at take-off," Chao said in the email.
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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