security

Americans Value Privacy Over Security, Survey Results Suggest

President Obama’s claim to be responding to people’s concerns related to the NSA’s surveillance programs hasn’t gained momentum, mainly because most Americans still believe that his promised reforms will do nothing to address the real problems.

According to Politico, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that over 60 percent of people who participated said they value privacy over surveillance tactics disguised as anti-terror protections carried out by agencies like the National Security Agency. Since the last time this question was asked of respondents back in August by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the percentage of Americans that claimed to value privacy over security has gone up two points.

Since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made his revelations public, President Obama has been scrambling to gain the public’s trust back but none of his efforts seems to be paying off. He has recently promised to review NSA’s surveillance system by ensuring that new limits are going to be imposed to the intelligence committee. According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Obama’s reforms are not going to be effective mostly because the President has misdiagnosed the problem.

According to the most recent poll, only 34% of respondents claimed to support Obama’s reform proposals concerning the FISA court procedures and the creation of a panel of attorneys that would offer counter-arguments to the government, while only 17% say Obama’s proposal to move collected phone data out of the NSA’s hands is valid.

Americans Deserve Neither Liberty Nor Security

I have reached the conclusion that Americans have enjoyed so much freedom and prosperity for so many years that they have come to take it for granted, and not only fail to see such circumstances as unique in the history of mankind, but as commonplace. And because they assume such has always been the norm, they fail to realize that such prosperity and freedom must be nurtured, cultivated, and defended.

How else can you explain the re-election of Barack Obama, who added more debt in his first three years than the first forty-one presidents combined, and more debt in four years than George W. Bush (not exactly a fiscal conservative) accumulated in eight years? How else to explain the seeming indifference to stratospheric debt levels that keep rising by more than $4 billion per day? We seem to think that America, because it has been the richest and most powerful nation in our lifetimes, will always be such.

Likewise, while the world around us seems in constant turmoil, until the attacks of 9/11 (2001, not the Benghazi attacks that we still have no answers for), Americans felt safe and secure on our homeland, buffered from the violence in Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world that fills our nightly news. But on that day we had our nose bloodied, and we felt vulnerable. Yet for the next eight years under Bush, we had no more attacks on American soil, and we once again slipped back in complacency.

Now, violent attacks are the steady diet of our news media. The Boston Marathon bombing. The ricin letters. Sandy Hook. Aurora. Virginia Tech. Columbine. The Underwear Bomber. The Shoe Bomber. The Times Square Bomber. The Giffords shooting. Suddenly we seem vulnerable again, and in that vulnerability we seek safety and security.

The Best Defense Against Terrorism

Terrorism

The specter of terrorism, especially on the American homeland is very frightening. These fears are especially acute in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack such as the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

More recently and prior to this latest attack, however; according to a recent Gallup poll, terrorism received 0% when asked about America’s greatest problem. Sen. Mitch McConnell said in response to the mathon bombing: “I think it’s safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain.

Is Sen. McConnell right? Have Americans become complacent to these “serious threats”? Are Americans to blame for failing to be vigilant? Should we demand the federal government “do something” more to protect us?

Obama can’t say he wasn’t warned: Oh, look, the federal Obamacare exchange website was hacked in July

It may not be as headline grabbing as nude photos of celebrities that were lifted from Apple’s iCloud service, but a breach of Healthcare.gov, the federal Obamacare exchange, brings serious concerns about the security of the system as the Obama administration approaches the next open enrollment period.

The New York Times reports that, in July, hackers uploaded malware to a test server, one connected to Healthcare.gov, though they didn’t steal any information belonging to consumers:

The administration informed Congress of the violation, which it described as “an intrusion on a test server” supporting the website.

“Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information, data was not transmitted outside the agency and the website was not specifically targeted,” said Aaron Albright, a spokesman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the website. “We have taken measures to further strengthen security.”

Mr. Albright said the hacking was made possible by several security weaknesses. The test server should not have been connected to the Internet, he said, and it came from the manufacturer with a default password that had not been changed.

In addition, he said, the server was not subject to regular security scans as it should have been.

Hollywood star: Obama is “Bush on steroids”

Gary Oldman

In a recent interview with Den of Geek, actor Gary Oldman compared the dystopian themes in the remake of RoboCop to what’s going on currently in the United States under President Barack Obama, who, the star noted, promised to be different from his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Oldman, who is known for his roles in Sid and Nancy and the Harry Potter series, said that the new iteration of RoboCop touches heavily on political issues compared to the original 1987 movie.

“This one, I think you watch it and it’s science fact — you watch it and it looks recognisable. I think the debate of security and safety versus liberty, and how, in the name of security, liberty has been encroached upon,” Oldman told Den of Geek. “[D]rones [are] a big argument at the moment, and how they’re saying troops on the ground will be robotic troops at some point,” adding that the movie also touches on “freedom of choice” and “cynicism of the media.”

Oldman took the themes in the movie a step further, explaining that one could watch the movie and easily believe that it presents a picture of what’s going on the United States under President Obama.

“But you look at American politics at the moment, and it’s one mess after another, one scandal after another,” Oldman said. “I mean, it’s falling around him. The empire is crumbling.”

“You mean it’s crumbling around Barack Obama?” asked Ryan Lambie, who conducted the interview for Den of Geek.

Virginia man’s personal information allegedly stolen after using Healthcare.gov

Rich Guillory

Cybersecurity experts and congressional Republicans have warned that Healthcare.gov could be a security risk for users, but the White House and administration officials have dismissed those concerns. Now, a Virginia man is wondering why he’s getting phone calls from solicitors after using the federal Obamacare exchange.

In a story aired by this week by WVEC, a Norfolk-based television station, Rich Guillory said the strange phone calls started the day after he signed up for a health plan on Healthcare.gov. After several calls, all of which were solicitations related to health insurance, he finally phoned one of the numbers back.

“A lady answered the call and said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Guillory told WVEC. He tried another number and got the same line from the person on the other end of the call.

On the third try, Guillory says, the person on the other end hung up. He alleges that the calls are related to his visit to Healthcare.gov. “Has to be,” he said. “There’s no other way for those people to have known that I was looking for insurance.”

Healthcare.gov still not secure after three months of fixes

Despite the much-touted fixes to the Healthcare.gov after a disastrous rollout on October 1, the federal Obamacare website remains vulnerable to hackers, according to security experts who spoke with Reuters:

David Kennedy, head of computer security consulting firm TrustedSec LLC, told Reuters that the government has yet to plug more than 20 vulnerabilities that he and other security experts reported to the government shortly after HealthCare.gov went live on October 1.

Hackers could steal personal information, modify data or attack the personal computers of the website’s users, he said. They could also damage the infrastructure of the site, according to Kennedy, who is scheduled to describe his security concerns in testimony on Thursday before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“These issues are alarming,” Kennedy said in an interview on Wednesday.
[…]
“The site is fundamentally flawed in ways that make it dangerous to people who use it,” said Kevin Johnson, one of the experts who reviewed Kennedy’s findings.

Johnson said that one of the most troubling issues was that a hacker could upload malicious code to the site, then attack other HealthCare.gov users.

“You can take control of their computers,” said Johnson, chief executive of a firm known as Secure Ideas and a teacher at the non-profit SANS Institute, the world’s biggest organization that trains and certifies cyber security professionals.

Healthcare.gov is still a big security risk

 Still a big security risk

Not only has the Obama Administration failed to produce a fully functioning, user-friendly website — one that is still sending insurers incorrect information — Healthcare.gov remains a significant security threat to anyone who attempts to enroll in a health plan, according to an online security expert who discussed the issues with the Free Beacon:

Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report on Sunday following its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to repair the website, saying that the “team has knocked more than 400 bug fixes and software improvements off the punch list.”
[…]
“It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all,” David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Kennedy said fundamental safeguards missing from Healthcare.gov that were identified by his company more than a month ago have yet to be put in place.

Administration launched Healthcare.gov despite “limitless” security risks

The security problems on the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, have already received a lot of attention. These issues were one of many focal points during recent congressional hearings over the site, after instances of privacy breaches, including one user who logged in and was given personal information for other applicants.

Members grilled HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on this particular point, and she couldn’t guarantee that the site was secure. Now we know why. CBS News reports that memos from those working on the site found that the security risks are “limitless,” apparently keeping the project manager in the dark (emphasis added):

CBS News has learned that the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security. Those failures could lead to identity theft among buying insurance. The project manager testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors, but CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.

ObamaCare website security in question

identity theft

The federal ObamaCare exchange website’s glitches aren’t the only problem for the Obama Administration as it continues to face criticism for the embarrassing rollout. Questions over lax security for users — which could lead to identity theft — have surfaced once again (emphasis added):

Cybersecurity professionals are voicing questions about potential red flags in the new federal health care website system that could open the door to theft of personal information.
[…]
Experts have stopped short of calling these concerns “vulnerabilities” – a term that means a proven weak spot to hackers. But they say these red flags need attention.

“I’ll ask you your Social Security, your date of birth, [so] an hour later I can empty your bank account,” John McAfee, who founded the cybersecurity company of the same name but is no longer associated with it, complained on Fox News. The Obamacare websites, he said, have “no safeguards,” and the main site’s architecture is “outrageous.”

This isn’t a new concern. Back in August, Reuters reported that the Obama Administration was months behind on data security testing the exchange website. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) questioned the security of the exchanges shortly after the Reuters report and called on the administration to delay their launch.


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