Vulnerabilities / Threats
11/8/2013
11:11 AM
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Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website

DDoS tool targets the federal Affordable Care Act website. But will it work?

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"Destroy Obama Care!"

That's the not-so-subtle name of a homegrown distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack tool that's being advertised for download on some social networks, and which promises to overwhelm the Healthcare.gov website.

"This program continually displays alternate page of the ObamaCare website. It has no virus, Trojans, worms, or cookies. The purpose is to overload the ObamaCare website, to deny serivce [sic] to users and perhaps overload and crash the system," reads the program's grammar- and spelling-challenged "about" screen. "You can open as many copies of this program as you want. Each copy opens multiple links to the site."

"ObamaCare is an affront to the Constitutional rights of the people," it adds. "We HAVE the right to CIVIL disobedience!"

This is hardly the first DDoS attack tool designed to right perceived political wrongs, according to Marc Eisenbarth, research manager at DDoS defense firm Arbor Networks. "This application continues a trend [Arbor] is seeing with denial-of-service attacks being used as a means of retaliation against a policy, legal rulings or government actions," he said in a blog post.

Indeed, by 2011, Arbor was reporting that half of all DDoS attacks seemed to be driven by ideological motives. Some recent examples have included attacks against everyone from U.S. financial institutions and the Vaticanto Mexican drug cartels and North Korean government sites.

In this case, the anti-Obamacare DDoS tool, which is written in Delphi, is designed to launch numerous layer seven -- application-layer -- requests to the Affordable Care Act website (www.healthcare.gov) as well as the site's contact page (www.healthcare.gov/contact-us). The intent is to overwhelm the sites with traffic, making them inaccessible to would-be insurance buyers.

Could this attack application be the nail in the coffin for the Healthcare.gov insurance exchange website, which has faced a rocky launch since its Oct. 1 rollout? The fallout from the botched launch has already lead to the CIO of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services deciding to defect to the "private sector"for an undisclosed position, and President Obama continually promising that the site's kinks will soon be worked out.

Eisenbarth said this DDoS tool most likely can't deliver what it promises. "The request rate, the non-distributed attack architecture and many other limitations make this tool unlikely to succeed in affecting the availability of the healthcare.gov site," he said. Furthermore, he noted that to date, Arbor has seen no "active use of this software."

In part, the tool's apparent inability to take down targeted Healthcare.gov websites demonstrates how grassroots DDoS attacks often face an uphill battle, owing to either technical problems or a lack of a critical mass of participants. Indeed, even some past, large-scale DDoS attacks launched by the hacktivist collective Anonymous didn't succeed in overwhelming targeted sites until -- reportedly -- bot-master benefactors temporarily brought legions of "zombie" PCs to bear on targeted sites.

What of the "Destroy Obama Care!" tool's premise that it allows users to exercise their right to civil disobedience? On this front, the tool's author has read his or her U.S. legal code incorrectly. Indeed, U.S. law enforcement agencies have vigorously prosecuted people who launch DDoS attacks against any website.

For example, after a DDoS tool called Low Orbit Ion Cannon(LOIC) was released under the Anonymous banner in 2010, many users found out -- the hard way -- that the tool didn't mask their IP address. As a result, when users turned the tool on websites designated for attack by Anonymous IRC chat-room operators during Operation Payback, many inadvertently transmitted not only attack packets, but their IP address.

In short order, attacked businesses -- which included MasterCard, PayPal and Visa -- reportedly shared their network logs with the FBI, which traced the IP addresses back to service providers' subscribers, and began arresting suspected LOIC users. Those arrests have been ongoing, and last month, the Department of Justice indicted 13 more men who allegedly used LOIC in 2010 and 2011 as part of Operation Payback.

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ushadrons
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ushadrons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2013 | 12:24:00 AM
Rebellion and Insurrection
18 USC Chapter 115 - TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. § 2383

Rebellion or insurrection - Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States OR THE LAWS THEREOF, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
KayA777
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KayA777,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 10:52:03 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
THANKYOU!!  As in any budget (which has been so long ago it's forgotten) priorities must formulate the decisions on what we pay and what we let slide. The Obama-ites showed they know how to make things painful during the "shutdown" by such things as adding Barry-cades to the World War II Memorial that was largely privately funded. 
pabbott782
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pabbott782,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 7:15:11 AM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
I'ts been a long time since I've been in UK so I'm probably out of date. However.....

NHS was financed by a 2x7% tax separate from income tax,  7% deducted from pay, 7% paid by employer. Self employed pay both. This is assessed on income up to a limit which I forget

The healthy probably pay more but the ill and injured definitely pay much less than in the US
Tronman
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Tronman,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2013 | 7:37:08 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
"Healthcare" (read "disease management") is free in the UK?!! You mean you don't have to pay any taxes to support your system, so the doctors, nurses, hospital maintenance and grounds crews, etc., all work for free?!! Wow!! What an awesome system you have there!! I'll bet you even have "free" education!!
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2013 | 1:38:35 AM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
Yes, I agree with the two systems. If nothing changed since I was down there, doctors used to go to hospitals to take care of the general population in the morning and have their own practice for "the elite" in the afternoon. But, if memory serves, you really don't have to be rich to go there.
Also, if you need blood work, X rays and what not, you still can go to the hospital (where, most likely, the doc works) and doing it for free.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2013 | 1:26:24 AM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
"Being complicit in a pricing system that discourages people to go to the doctor isn't exactly doing no harm."
This phrase should award you the Pulitzer Prize.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2013 | 7:46:05 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
It's not just cost, it's quality. UK may have great quality, equal or surpassing US. If the UK is better, that has to be factored into any potential greater cost and likewise, any potential lesser cost. If it's worse, that too has to be considered in terms of which country is getting better value for their money and what each country expects from healthcare.

I believe a large portion of the US's healthcare costs are from corruption present in treating the elderly. Although some blame tort reform, two members of my family have worked as nurses in retirement facilities and they claim the medical community abuses folks who no longer have the capacity to understand the care they need. Endless lab tests are performed whenever an ache or pain is reported. Perhaps they do this to protect themselves from malpractice but their experience suggests something different when the physician also happens to own the lab. It's not illegal but it's likely billions in wasted procedures.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2013 | 7:31:27 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
Even if voting were perfect, would it matter? How many people truly cast an informed vote? How many people cast an unselfish vote? How many people vote for someone who "resonates" with them without truly understanding whether that person is genuine or pandering to their wants and needs.

An honest politician should be the #1 example when defining the word oxymoron. However they are seldom caught truly lying because they never say anything that's concrete or they leave out important context that makes it easy for them to dodge bullets.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
11/11/2013 | 6:37:12 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
You have radically over simplified how hospital care works without insurance. Yeah, if you need EMERGENCY care, they have to provide it. But once they alleviate that, bye-bye to you if no insurance or ability to pay yourself. For example, you go to emergency room for severe pain in stomach area. Once they determine that is because you have cancer, you are gone without insurance. They don't have to cure your cancer.
Now, if you are poor enough, you can qualify for Medicare (paid by taxpayers, mostly middle class). If you are rich, you just pay for it. If you are middle class, no Medicare for you. You're only choice is to raise money by selling your house and every other valuable possession you spent your life working for and hope it is enough to treat you. Which at cost of cancer treatment today, it won't be.
ACA is certainly not perfect legislation yet and does nothing by itself to reign in the cost of healthcare, as some of you have pointed out. But it is an effort to keep people from getting their lives destroyed by an illness they certainly didn't want to have. Now we have to keep working on rest on the problems in system.
I understand artigat1's comment about UK system but it also oversimplified. The taxes in UK are paying for this. Whether that tax burden is better than US taxes + our health insurance, I don't know. That would determine which method is best. If UK has implemented programs to contain cost and keep taxes at reasonable level, they are light years ahead of where we are in US right now.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2013 | 5:45:03 PM
re: Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website
The costs are higher because of provisions regarding women cannot be charged more, children can be covered until age 26 (I think it's 26), no lifetime maximums, no pre-existing conditions, cannot be cancelled if you experience an "expensive" illness and 80% of premiums must be used for non-admin expenses. Of course these were all supposed to be washed out by millions of new "healthy payees" that would enter the system and cover the costs of this grand plan. It sounds reasonable -- as reasonable as trickle down economics. Folks are always crabbing about how trickle down economics don't work yet the idea of spreading risk with new payees is nothing more than an opposite and twisted form of trickle down. It's like some sort of weird trickle up taxation.

It's a stretch to think that we're going to add millions of new healthy payees to the system. First, young people are covered until they are 26. No new payees. Second, how many 30 year old college graduates make income levels beyond levels that won't be subsidized? The 1%? That isn't going to cover it. How do these subsidies get funded? The vehemently opposed Medical device tax? As the tow truck driver in the original MIB said to the bug, "Please..."

One thing for sure... This is a giant tax increase on everyone and it's hidden in plain sight. While I can appreciate the mess we are in, make no mistake about this being a tax increase. If corporations don't, won't or cannot absorb it, those who pay taxes will be funding most of it because those are the ones that make just enough where they won't get help paying it.

The folks that crafted this not only got their 1% tax increase, they got a tax increase on everyone from the lower middle class all the way to the top. Now for the eye opener. The top 1% love it because they are going to make a killing investing in medical services corporations and big pharma. Who gets screwed again? The folks making just enough to be comfortable and perhaps trying to save a bit, perhaps even invest a bit so that someday they might not have to work so hard and enjoy their retirement -- that is, if the 401k crooks let them keep a few table scraps and don't cook up another crisis that lays waste to home values and their investments.
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