'Hacktivist' Tool Designed To Prevent ACA Exchange Website Access


Hackers have developed a program designed to flood the federal health insurance exchange website with automatic, meaningless online traffic, according to researchers at Arbor Networks, the Wall Street Journal's "Digits" reports. 

Arbor Networks researchers said that they found no evidence that the tool has been used, but they were able to download the program (Yadron,"Digits," Wall Street Journal, 11/7).

Details of Program

According to InformationWeek, the tool is a non-distributed denial-of-service attack program. The tool is designed to launch numerous application-layer requests to HealthCare.gov and the website's contact page to overwhelm the site with online traffic and make it inaccessible to consumers, InformationWeek reports. 

The program's "about" screen says its purpose "is to overload the ObamaCare website, to deny [service] to users and perhaps overload and crash the system."


In a blog post, Marc Eisenbarth, research manager at Arbor Networks, said that 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."

However, Eisenbarth noted that the program "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" (Schwartz, InformationWeek, 11/8). 

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