Healthcare.gov Could Be Leaking Your Private Information

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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WASHINGTON — A little-known side to the government’s health insurance website is prompting renewed concerns about privacy, just as the White House is calling for stronger cybersecurity protections for consumers. Furthermore, the vendors could also see ages, incomes, ZIP codes, whether a person smokes or if they are pregnant. “As I look at vendors on a website…they could be another potential point of failure,” corporate cybersecurity consultant Theresa Payton told the AP. “Vendor management can often be the weakest link in your privacy and security chain.” Payton added that the amount of outside connections on the government website seems like “overkill” and makes it “kind of an outlier” among other federal sites. HealthCare.gov explains on its privacy policy page that it uses numerous online measurement software tools, and uses them to collect information such as an individual’s IP address, pages visited and the date and time they visited the site.

Connections to multiple third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed HealthCare.gov, and confirmed by The Associated Press. However, no personally identifiable information is collected by these tools, the site added. “HealthCare.gov sometimes collects and uses your PII if you made it available through third-party websites,” the website read. “However, we do not share PII made available through third-party websites. Moreover, the government only uses that data to measure the performance of HealthCare.gov so consumers get “a simpler, more streamlined and intuitive experience,” Albright said.

The privacy concerns come against the backdrop of President Barack Obama’s new initiative to protect personal data online, a highlight of his State of the Union message scheduled for Tuesday night. The administration is getting the health care website ready for the final enrollment drive of 2015, aiming to have more than 9 million people signed up by Feb. 15 for subsidized private coverage. The American people deserve to know their personal information on HealthCare.gov is absolutely secure.” The Science Committee added that there were ongoing concerns after the site’s failed initial launch, and after hackers were able to upload malware onto it last July. The malware was installed for use in future cyberattacks against other websites, according to earlier reports.The server was mainly used for code testing. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explained that the portions of the site with PHI had more security protections and that the hackers were unable to get access through the network. “Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information; data was not transmitted outside the agency, and the website was not specifically targeted,” HHS said in a written statement. “We have taken measures to further strengthen security.”

But in a recent visit to the site, AP found that certain personal details — including age, income, and whether you smoke — were being passed along likely without your knowledge to advertising and Web analytics sites. Why is that there?” Created under the president’s health care law, HealthCare.gov is the online gateway to government-subsidized private insurance for people who lack coverage on the job. Because your computer and mobile devices can be assigned an individual signature, profiles of Internet users can be pieced together, generating lists that have commercial value. Aldo Cortesi, a security consultant who reviewed the AP’s findings, found a number of third-party trackers that could log a user’s actions in detail.

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