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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now you can add security to the long list of problems plaguing HealthCare.gov - the enrollment site for the new health insurance exchanges.

As NPR's Elise Hu reports.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: How safe is the data you enter on HealthCare.gov? That's a question on the minds of some lawmakers, like Michigan Republican Mike Rogers.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS: Has each piece of that code that's been introduced into the system been security tested?

HU: The memo leaked to the AP and The Washington Post shows an audit raised an unspecified high-risk security concern before the health care marketplace opened. But officials signed off on a temporary certificate to operate anyway. Rogers criticized Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for that decision during a Wednesday hearing.

ROGERS: You accepted a risk of every user of this computer that put their personal financial information at risk.

HU: The personal information going into HealthCare.gov include birthdate, Social Security number, and an estimated income range. Sebelius says her team was OK with the temporary go-ahead because additional security controls were in place.

Waylon Krush is the head of Lunar Line, a cybersecurity firm that does work with dozens of federal government agencies.

WAYLON KRUSH: They get to make those decisions and those tradeoffs.

HU: He says HHS - which administers Medicare and Medicaid - actually has a lot of experience with data security.

KRUSH: They process, store, manage, review a lot more sensitive data than what, you know, your general citizen is going to put on HealthCare.gov, so I would say, from a risk perspective, it's pretty low, actually,

HU: But the agency's technological credibility is dwindling as programmers rush to fix ongoing issues with the error-riddled system. Now, programmers have to make sure they don't introduce new security risks with each patch. Again, Sebelius.

SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: I know they're doing simultaneous testing as new code is loaded.

HU: Krush says this attention on security presents a good reminder for all of us.

KRUSH: Everyone should always ask those questions whether it's commercial or government, how are you protecting my data?

HU: An important question, as more and more pieces of our lives exist online.

Elise Hu, NPR News, Washington.

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