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The US government is hacking to make sure it’s secure

The launch of, the US government’s health insurance website, was beset with technical problems so severe that only six people were able to enroll on its first day in October 2013. Ahead of a second enrollment period, beginning on November 15th, government officials are launching cyberattacks against the revamped site to make sure the same crippling bugs and security holes don’t appear again.

Andy Slavitt, hired to oversee the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ program, says that groups of white-hat hackers in his team are conducting weekly attacks on the network that simulate real hacking attempts, in order to probe for weak points and bolster its defenses. Flaws in the previous incarnation of…

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Oregon is switching to from its own troubled exchange

Oregon is giving up on its state-run online health exchange and switching over to the federal website, making it the first state to make the jump, according to the Associated Press. Oregon’s health exchange, known as Cover Oregon, has reportedly been plagued with issues and hasn’t even been able to fully process new applications online — those enrolling have apparently still had to fill out paper forms as well. Fixing Cover Oregon reportedly would have cost a staggering $ 78 million, while transitioning over to will only cost between $ 4 million and $ 6 million.

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The Verge – All Posts users asked to reset passwords following Heartbleed bug

The officials are requesting that users reset their passwords after a continuing internal review by the Department of Homeland security flagged the site as possibly being vulnerable to a Heartbleed exploit. The move to reset passwords is being taken “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a a notice published on the site, which serves as a portal for the health insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare. In addition, the note says that “there’s no indication” that any information was revealed through Heartbleed.

Critics of the Affordable Care Act may seize the opportunity to attack the much-maligned website, which was plagued by bugs during its launch last year. Those site issues have since been…

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White House reportedly dumps main contractor

Finally, someone’s getting fired over the debacle. The Washington Post is reporting that the administration is about to cut ties with CGI Federal, the contractor that built most of the error-riddled website where Americans are supposed to buy health insurance. CGI will be replaced by Accenture as the primary contractor on

Critics were disappointed to see the same contractors who had screwed things up on also being paid to fix them. The high profile failure highlighted the need for reform of the way the government buys and manages IT projects, but change seemed to be coming slowly. At first it seemed as if no one would be held responsible for the mess, so today’s news is encouraging.

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The Verge – All Posts enrollments surge following major repairs

Though it began with a rocky start, healthcare signups through the United States’ new insurance marketplaces surged this month, bringing total enrollments to 2.1 million for the end of the year. Most notably, enrollment doubled through as the deadline for January coverage approached. Given’s often-inoperable state during the prior months, that statistic isn’t necessarily so impressive, but the government is encourage that enrollments will actually continue to grow from now through March, when the enrollment period ends.

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The Verge – All Posts will soon be hosted by HP rather than Verizon

The Obama administration has just three days left to fix, the buggy federal health insurance website, before its self-imposed deadline expires. But there’s one new wrinkle that could make things better or worse: the website is moving to a new hosting provider. According to The Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Health and Human Services is replacing previous host Terremark, a subsidiary of Verizon, with Hewlett-Packard instead.

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The Verge – All Posts, Google Books, and Snapchat: 90 Seconds on The Verge

“We just love what your startup is doing!”
“Thank you so much.”
“We feel that it would make a beautiful addition to the Facebook family.”
“You do?”
“We do. That is why we are willing to give you $ 80,000,000,000,000,000 plus this batch of delicious chocolate cookies my wife made. What do you say?”
“Mmmmm… I think I’ll wait a bit to see if I can get more. Thanks though! Can I still take a cookie?”

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Three 20-year-olds build their own version of

A trio of programmers in San Francisco have built their own version of, the federal insurance marketplace that has had serious technical issues since launching on October 1st, over the course of “a few late nights.”

HealthSherpa allows users to browse health insurance plans available in their zip code, and even calculates what federal tax subsidies they may be eligible for. The government site does not allow users to browse plans like this, instead requiring everyone to register and fill out an application.

The site does not attempt to do most of the complex functions of, including verifying identity and submitting applications. It’s more of a demonstration of how one aspect could have been designed…

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Someone built a tool to DDoS ‘destroy Obamacare’

Researchers at security engineering firm Arbor Networks have discovered a tool that appears to target the federal health insurance marketplace with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

The tool, which aims to overload the site with unnecessary requests, is available for download and has been mentioned on social media.

The description suggests its author was politically motivated. “Destroy Obamacare,” it says. “Obamacare is an affront to the constitutional rights of the people.”

It could be a subversive joke

The source is unclear, however, and it could just as easily be a subversive joke. If genuine, it may be the latest example of a “hacktivist” tool.

“This application continues a trend [we are] seeing with…

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The Verge – All Posts, Wii, and ‘Army of Darkness’ sequel: 90 Seconds on The Verge

Your path to true happiness is only 90 seconds away…

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