The United States government reportedly stored sensitive personal data on millions of people who purchased insurance through ObamaCare on a computer system with basic security flaws.
Healthcare.gov relies on a $110 million digital repository called MIDAS, Multidimensional Insurance Data Analytics System, which is the principal electronic storehouse for all information collected under President Obama’s healthcare law. There is currently about 10 million people covered through HealthCare.gov, but MIDAS keeps the information of former customers as well, storing their information for years.
This repository does not collect medical records, but it does, in fact, handle the names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, and financial and employment information of customers on Healthcare.gov and state insurance marketplaces.
According to the auditor’s report, MIDAS did not encrypt user sessions, contrary to standard practice on financial websites. Other technical problems identified by the report include: using a shared read-only account for access to the database that contained individuals’ personal information, failure to disable “generic accounts”, and failure to conduct vulnerability scans.
In addition to poor security policies, the HHS audit also found 135 database vulnerabilities, 22 of which were classified as high risk and 62 as medium risk. For information on how to achieve, prove, and remain HIPAA HITECH Compliant, click here.
“MIDAS collects, generates and stores a high volume of sensitive consumer information, and it is critical that it be properly secured,” the inspector general’s report states.
In a written response to the inspectors’ audit, Medicare Administrator Andy Slavitt stated that “the privacy and security of consumers’ personally identifiable information are a top priority.” He also confirmed that all the high-risk vulnerabilities were remediated within a week of being identified and that all of the Inspector General’s recommendations have been fully implemented into their IT environment.
Having weak security policies in place when being held reliable for over 10 million people’s personal information seems a bit daunting, but this is not the first time Healthcare.gov has been found guilty of technical & security issues. A 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office identified that health officials failed to implement best security practices throughout the entire system, leaving small weaknesses that handle sensitive information at risk.
The GAO is expected to release another report later this year describing multiple security incidents for Healthcare.gov. Their system was apparently breached last summer, but according to reports, no customer information was viewed or compromised.
With healthcare information being as valuable as it is among cyber-criminals, it is vitally important that Healthcare.gov understand the seriousness of implementing security best practices and abiding by those policies at all times.
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Read the article on The Hill