BY BEN RICHMOND
The launch of the Affordable Care Act, instead of killing jobs, gave birth to a brand-new and potentially lucrative industry: fake insurance websites.
According to the Washington Examiner, more than 700 websites have been launched whose names play off variations of Obamacare-related buzzwords. Some of them appear to be simple website squatting, buying URLs in hopes that someone else will pay a premium for the real estate later, while some have more malicious goals: tricking would-be insurance shoppers into giving up sensitive data like their social security numbers.
Before the launch (and debacle) of Healthcare.gov, there were warnings from the tech-security industry that enrollees could be fooled by faux-bamacare sites. Although most criticism of the ACA focuses on the federal site, Healthcare.gov, there are also state-run exchanges and legitimate third-party websites where people can shop for insurance.
Multiply sign-up points seems sensible enough, as Healthcare.gov-gate proves the folly of relying on a single website. However, as Christopher Budd at Trend Micro pointed out, “there’s no official marking or labeling that [consumers] can look at on a site to know that it’s an officially sanctioned site.” This opens the possibility for people to give away sensitive information to anyone with a half-way convincing site.
As John McAfee put it on Fox News, “any hacker can put a website up, and make it look extremely competitive, and because of the nature of the system—this is health care, after all—they can ask you the most intimate questions and you’re freely going to answer them.”
Normally when buying a domain, it’s customary to buy other, similar domains and just have them redirect to the correct site. Hence, Gooogle.com takes you where you probably wanted to go, even if your hand trembles.