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Have Right-Wingers Hacked the ACA/Obamacare/Healthcare.gov Website... and is it a Freedom of Speech Issue?

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There's talk that the ACA/Obamacare/Healthcare.gov website been hacked by right-wingers?

That's the story buzzing around the web, twitter, etcetera. 

In a nutshell, the buzz is reporting that Homeland security has identified at least 16 hack attacks on the healthcare.gov website. This is based on testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, by  Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cyber-security and Communications , shown in this youtube video , which also reports that there was a distributed denial of service attack, (DDOS) which failed. Denial of service attacks aim to disable a website by overwhelming it with too many attempts to access the site, thus overloading the server. 

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(image by House Homeland Security Committee youtube video)   DMCA


Informationweek.com has an article,  Hackers Threaten Destruction Of Obamacare Website, which reports,
"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."

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

Marc Eisenbarth, of Arbor Security Engineering and Response Team (ASSERT) commented in a blog post,  that the "Destroy Obamacare" DDOS attack, because of it's " architecture and many other limitations make this tool unlikely to succeed in affecting the availability of the healthcare.gov site." Eisenbarth also commented,
" ASERT has seen site specific denial of service tools in the past related to topics of social or political interest.  This application continues a trend ASERT is seeing with denial of service attacks being used as a means of retaliation against a policy, legal rulings or government actions."
The Informationweek.com article also mentions that half of DDOS attacks are ideological in nature. The publisher of the "Destroy Obamacare" website characterizes the DDOS as civil disobedience, and others have referred to this kind of activity as hacktivism. But the Informationweek.com article adds,
"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."
On the left, people are commenting and tweeting things like: 

  1. In case you haters missed it, turns out the ACA website failed because the a**holes hacked it.



website hacked Rollout disaster was work of sabatoge and an act of war



Right wingers are posting comments like:

GOP hacked ACA website? Do u also believe US moon landing was fake & aliens are in NM?

 
and 

Mouth breathers at MSNBC now say GOP hacked the ACA website. They source Media Matters and Think Progress for this story......LOL



The fact is, DDOS attacks are very common. It is likely that any website that evokes an ideological response will have some DDOS experiences. This website has repeatedly experienced DDOS attacks over the years. The answer is for the server management team to build a robust defense system that detects DDOS attacks and responds to them. 

I would guess that the healthcare.gov site has actually had many more than 16 attempted hacks. This has become so common that it is barely news and not an acceptable excuse for the failure of the site to operate as it should. 

As far as the "Destroy Obamacare" website, it is likely that people using it are not masking their IP addresses, which will make them easy targets for prosecution. I have mixed feelings about that. Should politically motivated DDOS attacks be considered hacktivist civil disobedience comparable to protesters blocking sidewalk access to buildings? Or should DDOS hackers be prosecuted as criminals, even terrorists. With the recent sentencing of Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond, it is essential that any prosecution of people engaging in digital political be carefully considered and evaluated in light of the rights of protesters and free speech. If the Supreme Court can declare that money is speech, is it unreasonable to consider that DDOSs are also a form of expression, just as shouting over a speak is?




 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more...)
 

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Reviving Hillary's Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy!"&nb... by Michael Rivero on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 12:48:03 PM
That's a first for me ... had to google it ...Wiki... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 12:59:07 PM
Michael, there wasn't a 'vast RIght-Wing Conspirac... by Ralph Demers on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 1:19:11 PM
Big problem with that statement is there WAS a vas... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:04:42 PM
Rob - You are dreaming! The ACA website cockup is ... by Ted Newcomen on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 1:24:31 PM
actually, I'd say my article undermines the hacked... by Rob Kall on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 2:51:05 PM
It won't just be the liars (who as you correctly s... by Ted Newcomen on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:20:40 PM
And that is President Obama's fault how?What he wr... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:08:05 PM
Its the CEO's fault, not because Obama wrote the c... by Ted Newcomen on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 6:44:01 AM
   Ted, this is too egregious and false ... by Ralph Demers on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:12:06 PM
This is not ignorance, its fact - Obama has been a... by Ted Newcomen on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 5:49:05 PM
I am surprised that Rob Kall even hints that what ... by Jeff Bell on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 2:55:08 PM
This should also apply to Supreme Court jesters wh... by Dennis Kaiser on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 4:50:12 AM
Denial of service attacks have been used by those ... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 3:43:41 PM
Malignant Hacking was my first thought since I hav... by Bill Dugan on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:11:59 PM
I'd think the better rightwing tactic would let al... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 6:51:23 PM
Yes Robert Bush and Cheney did accomplish a... by Cliff Carson on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 8:51:31 PM
Yes, and Obama has continued that legacy on steroi... by Davey Jones on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:02:55 AM
Absolutely! Bush & Cheney only started it - th... by Ted Newcomen on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 6:55:16 AM
Baloney!!!  *BRONX CHEER*You need to read mor... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:46:06 PM
So you think Obama's done a good job? Tell me abou... by Ted Newcomen on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 6:47:06 AM
QUICK!  HANNITY IS COMING ON!  YOU DON'T... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 10:16:54 AM
There are many unknowns here, but one consideratio... by Gustav Wynn on Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 at 8:58:01 PM
Good points, all, Gustav.... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:47:18 PM
The conservatives have told so many outright lies,... by Joy Zocco on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:23:58 AM
Well, I hope for fairness at the very least. ... by Neal Chalabi Chambers on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:35:27 AM
We narrow our scope of vision too much. I, for one... by John Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 7:55:57 AM
The Fascists on the left will do the same when the... by Davey Jones on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:55:48 AM
Not to dissuade you from having the wrong idea, bu... by John Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 10:47:12 AM
Well written posts, Mr. Sanchez.Thank you.... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:02:25 PM
And what did the Corporate Fascists Bush and Chene... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:35:19 PM
I'm not denying what Bush and Cheney started. Obam... by Davey Jones on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 9:12:55 AM
The GOP is keeping as far away from ACA as possibl... by Michael Morris on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 7:57:23 AM
 As I see ACA, nothing has changed except you... by Carol Jackson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:36:16 AM
Carol, true today but your comment has a expiratio... by Gustav Wynn on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:26:36 PM
They don't need to. The ACA is a FrankenFoods vers... by Davey Jones on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:51:51 AM
And we have the Republicans to blame for THAT! &nb... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:01:26 PM
Time to get informed Mr. Sun King,Obama appointed ... by Davey Jones on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 3:08:52 PM
I have sat back and watched this thread and would ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:55:00 AM
If the 'average Joe' is using a software product t... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 10:23:22 AM
You are correct in that if someone is using specia... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 10:54:50 AM
Nice response, Bill.  Thank you.I was not fam... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 12:59:45 PM
Sun King, I agree that the noose is being tigh... by Cliff Carson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 4:19:16 PM
I did not mean to double post...... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:56:53 AM
I just wonder why it took so long to call out the ... by Theodora B Crawford on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 1:45:43 PM
"Be always sure you are right - then go ahead!"&nb... by Sun King on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 2:11:40 PM
That thought came to my mind just after the websit... by M.I. Lee on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:30:59 PM
Sigh, I guess I am one of those you describe. Thou... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:45:34 PM