When unauthorized individuals gain access to people's personal information, there's no end to the harm that can be caused. Witness the meltdown over the news that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts used at Target was stolen. What it means is that people's identities and bank accounts can be compromised, with potentially catastrophic ramifications for their credit (and their solvency).At least Target is making an effort to help -- and there's no evidence whatsoever that its management knowingly exposed consumers to a security risk.
Not so with the US government, however, -- the Washington Free Beacon reports today that the Obama administration knew of the security risks in the Heallthcare.gov web site, but nonetheless urged Americans to expose themselves to potential risk by signing up. One security report apparently stated that a malicious attacker with knowledge of the system would be able to see and edit people's personally identifiable information. What's more, all the security risks can't be fully assessed yet, since as of November, thirty to forty percent of the site remained to be built.
Ultimately, the technical mess of Healthcare.gov -- which has prevented many from being able to sign up -- may have prevented a lot of Americans from having their personal information stolen and misused by hackers. But it's disgraceful that the administration realized the site wasn't safe, and yet encouraged people to get on and provide personal information anyway.