News

Obamacare enrollees encouraged to change passwords over Heartbleed bug

Obamacare enrollees encouraged to change passwords over Heartbleed bug

HEARTBLEED HEADACHE:The warning marks the latest fallout from the widespread security bug, which surfaced this month and allows hackers to steal data online without a trace. Companies from Amazon.com Inc to Google Inc. have been forced to take steps to protect against Heartbleed. Photo: Reuters

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Americans with accounts on President Barack Obama’s health insurance enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, were advised that their passwords had been reset to guard against the “Heartbleed” bug, in a message posted on the site on Saturday.

The warning marks the latest fallout from the widespread security bug, which surfaced this month and allows hackers to steal data online without a trace. Companies from Amazon.com Inc to Google Inc. have been forced to take steps to protect against Heartbleed.

A message on HealthCare.gov said users who visited the website would need to create a new password to access their accounts.

“While there’s no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers’ passwords out of an abundance of caution,” said the message posted on Saturday.

The Heartbleed security flaw is a “catastrophic bug” believed to affect two out of every three Web servers, according to the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

HealthCare.gov, a health insurance exchange for the 36 states that opted out of creating their own state insurance exchanges, was created under Obama’s signature health care law, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The website’s launch last fall was dogged by complaints that many users could not access the site to buy insurance or research healthcare plan options. Most of the website’s most prominent flaws were eventually remedied.

Obama on Thursday announced in the White House briefing room that 8 million people had signed up by the latest enrollment deadline of April 15. The program’s original goal was 7 million signups by the end of March, which was met.

Republicans have been relentless in their criticism of the healthcare law ahead of November’s congressional elections, when the GOP hopes to reclaim control of the U.S. Senate and strengthen its majority in the House of Representatives.

Critics of Obama’s health initiative have suggested HealthCare.gov might be vulnerable to security flaws.

The Heartbleed bug exploits a glitch in a widely used Web encryption program known as OpenSSL.

It has not affected only corporations.

Canada’s tax-collection agency said this month that the private information of hundreds of people had been compromised as hackers exploited the Heartbleed bug.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Recent Headlines

18 hours ago in Sports

Congressman charges NFL with wrongdoing

pallone1614461738670

A senior House Democrat has found that National Football League officials improperly sought to influence a government study on the link between football and brain disease.

18 hours ago in National

Democrats, seeking unity, give Sanders say in party platform

14-overlay-8

The Democratic Party said on Monday it would give U.S. presidential contender Bernie Sanders a prominent say in writing its platform this year, a gesture that could ease tensions between Sanders' camp and party leaders, whom Sanders has accused of favoring rival Hillary Clinton.

18 hours ago in Sports

Tom Brady continues his fight with NFL

25-overlay-6

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Monday asked a U.S. appeals court to reconsider its ruling reinstating his "Deflategate" four-game suspension, saying the decision runs contrary to federal labor law.

18 hours ago in National

Hawaii could be first to put gun owners in federal database

hawaiigunrestrictions16134856688305

Hawaii could become the first state in the nation to enter gun owners into an FBI database that will automatically notify police if an island resident is arrested anywhere else in the country.

18 hours ago in Lifestyle, National

Kicking the habit: Adult smoking rate in U.S. is falling fast

cigarettes16137527645580

The smoking rate among U.S. adults has been falling steadily for decades but the latest survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the 2015 decline is the biggest in more than 20 years.