Current Weather
The Spy FM

Add Security To The List Of HealthCare.gov Tech Issues

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
October 31, 2013

To the long list of problems plaguing HealthCare.gov, add data security. The enrollment site for the new health insurance exchanges had a security flaw that didn’t get patched up when the exchange marketplace went live.

An internal government memo obtained by The Washington Post and Associated Press is dated Sept. 27 — four days before the HealthCare.gov website went live. It shows the government decided to go forward with launching the site even though there were “inherent security risks.”

The memo says that from a security perspective, aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development “exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk for FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace].”

Under federal government cybersecurity protocol, someone has to sign off on temporary certifications to operate despite security risks, and in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce panel Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that temporary authority was granted because a security risk “mitigation plan” was in place.

“You accepted a risk of every user of this computer that put their personal financial information at risk,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., while questioning Sebelius.

The personal information going into HealthCare.gov includes birth date, Social Security number and an estimated income range. Sebelius emphasized that the additional security controls gave the agency confidence in going ahead with the launch, despite the audit showing a security gap.

“They get to make those decisions and those tradeoffs,” says Waylon Krush, CEO of LunarLine, a cybersecurity firm that does work with dozens of federal government agencies, including HHS. “[Agency systems] process, store, manage, review a lot more sensitive data than what your general citizen is gonna put on HealthCare.gov, so I would say, from a risk perspective, it’s pretty low, actually.”

But the agency’s technological credibility is dwindling, as programmers rush to fix ongoing issues with the error-riddled system. Now, programmers have to make sure they don’t introduce new security risks with each patch.

“I know they’re doing simultaneous testing as new code is loaded,” Sebelius said Wednesday. Krush says this attention on security presents a good reminder for all of us.

“Everyone should always ask those questions, whether it’s commercial or government, ‘How are you protecting my data?’ ” he says. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center