NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Healthcare.gov's Security Troubles, a Background Check Hearing, and More

By Laura Spadanuta

 NPR reports on Healthcare.gov's security problems. The outlet reports that there are data security issues - specifically, a flaw that didn't get fixed before the government healthcare exchange site went live at the beginning of October. NPR cites a memo that The Washington Post obtained that stated the officials knew of the risks and decided to go forward with the site anyway. Users are required to put personal information into the site, such as date of birth and Social Security number.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee held a hearing on background checks yesterday. Senators criticized the private background check firms, which conduct many of the government's background checks. The Federal Times reports that the director of the Office of Personnel Management, Elaine Kaplan, received criticism about the handling of Aaron Alexis's check. Alexis recently perpetrated a mass shooting at Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard, killing 12 people before he was fatally shot by police. Alexis was arrested in Seattle in 2004 for shooting out car tires in a rage, but the background check did not include obtaining Alexis's police report. Fox News reports that Stephen Lewis, deputy director for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense told the committee that it had determined that the independent contracting company The Experts became aware of Alexis's instability but did not report the information. A clearance reform bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this week.

Wired reports that a Senate committee yesterday voted in favor of the National Security Agency's collection of domestic phone records. This measure is competing with legislation introduced earlier that would prohibit the records collection. The newer bill authorizes metadata collection. However, it also requires that the government have "reasonable, articulable suspicious" when it accesses the database for a person's information. 

Also from Wired, a look at DARPA's plans to arm drones with missile-blasting lasers. 

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