Hackers have created a distributed denial of service (DDoS) tool to overload the ObamaCare website healthcare.gov, attacking the new health care program where it has proven to be weakest and trying to prolong the administration’s embarrassment, reports Matthew Schwartz for InformationWeek.
Many DDoS tools are politically motivated, but as websites have had to fend off increasingly sophisticated attacks, grassroots efforts like this don’t have much chance of succeeding. Government sponsored attacks and botnet attacks increase traffic far beyond what most websites can handle, but a few thousand people pinging the ObamaCare site really shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The anti ObamaCare DDos Tool
“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),” explains Schwartz. But it’s up to individual people to create instances of the program to attack the site, and according to DDoS defense firm Arbor Networks there is no indication that people are actually using it.
Even if attackers managed to bring down the site, they would find the FBI on their doorstep (though maybe not right away). Schwartz points out that when Anonymous launched a DDoS in 2010 using LOIC (low orbit ion cannons, a tongue in cheek name for tools similar to the one that that’s supposed to attack healthcare.gov), many people didn’t know how to hide their IP addresses and the FBI has been prosecuting them ever since. Anyone knowledgeable enough to hide their IP while attacking healthcare.gov probably wouldn’t bother with the homemade tool.
ObamaCare was launched at the beginning of this month, but the website that people are supposed to find and sign up for has been riddled with problems, preventing people from getting coverage even if they want it. Conservatives have seized on this as proof that ObamaCare is poorly thought out and will be a disaster, while liberals have argued that a generational change to the health care industry shouldn’t be judged in the first two weeks. The administration has said that the site will be fixed by the end of this month.