And it won’t be from hacktivists wielding dud ‘Destroy Obama Care’ ray gun
By John Leyden
Hackers have thrown multiple attacks at US President Obama’s medical insurance bazaar HealthCare.gov since it went live in October, according to a senior US government official.
Acting assistant Homeland Security secretary Roberta Stempfley told a hearing of the House Homeland Security (HHS) Committee that the website was assaulted 16 times between 6 and 8 November, adding that all the attempts to knacker the site had failed, CNN reports (the site was perfectly capable of taking itself down, as it turned out).
Stempfley failed to specify the nature of the attempted attacks – but one expert at the committee hearing warned it’s just a matter of time before the website, which handles highly sensitive and personal information about US citizens, is compromised.
Separately US authorities are investigating the release of a “denial-of-service tool” designed to hit the healthcare website with more traffic than it can handle. The “Destroy Obama Care” utility is designed to put a strain on the site by alternating requests for two different pages on the site.
This is not a particularly aggressive, nor seemingly effective, approach. The tool has been mentioned on social networks, and made available for download from a small number of sites.
HealthCare.gov has been difficult to reach at times and less than reliable, but that’s another story.
Dan Holden, director of security research for DDoS mitigation experts Arbor Networks, told CNN that the ObamaCare site’s availability issues were unrelated to use of the “Destroy Obama Care” tool.
“We have not monitored any attacks,” Holden told CNN. “We have not seen any sizeable, or anything to believe that these problems are related to DDOS.”