Audit finds inadequate cybersecurity at HealthCare.gov

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of AP reports that an audit by the Inspector General for Health and Human Services found serious security deficiencies in the system used to store data collected via healthcare.gov.

The Obama administration said it acted quickly to fix all the problems identified by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office. But the episode raises questions about the government’s ability to protect a vast new database at a time when cyberattacks are becoming bolder.

Known as MIDAS, the $110-million system is the central electronic storehouse for information collected under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

It doesn’t handle medical records, but it does include names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, employment status and financial accounts of customers on HealthCare.gov and state insurance marketplaces.

Read more on 12News.

According to the public audit report, which did not contain all the details provided to government officials, auditors found:

Although CMS had implemented controls to secure the MIDAS and consumer PII data in the systems and databases we reviewed, we identified areas for improvement in its information security controls. At the time of our fieldwork, CMS:

  • had not disabled unnecessary generic accounts in its test environment;
  • had not encrypted user sessions;
  • had not conducted automated vulnerability assessments that simulate known attacks, which would have revealed vulnerabilities (e.g., password weaknesses and misconfigurations) specific to the application or databases that support the MIDAS; and
  • used a shared read-only account for access to the database that contained the PII.

In addition to the information security control vulnerabilities mentioned above, our database vulnerability scans identified 22 high, 62 medium, and 51 low vulnerabilities. We made related recommendations to address the issues we identified.

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