Headline: "Critical Flaw at HC.gov!!" Article: "Blocked by System Defenses"

Pop Quiz: You're writing (or editing) a news story about a GAO report regarding the security situation at Healthcare.Gov. Which of these passages from the article do you choose for your big, bold-faced headline?

  • A: "The hackers from the inspector general's office found one "critical" vulnerability during their security scans of the website, described as a flaw that would enable an attacker take over the system and execute commands, or download and modify information."
  • B: "So-called "white hat" or ethical hackers from the inspector general's office found a weakness, but when they attempted to exploit it like a malicious hacker would, they were blocked by the system's defenses."
  • C: "The inspector general found that the administration "has taken actions to lower the security risks associated with HealthCare.gov systems and consumer (personal information)."
  • D: "the office said that when its technical experts attempted to mimic what a malicious hacker might try next, they were blocked by the system's defenses.
  • F: "Specific descriptions of the flaws were not released, but apparently none has been exploited by hackers. "Not all vulnerabilities lead to security breaches," the report said."
  • F: "We have not had any malicious attacks on the site that have resulted in personal identification being stolen," Tavenner told Congress last week."

If you chose A), congratulations!

OK, seriously, the article itself is actually reasonably even-handed, reporting both the security concerns as well as the strengths, but the headline still reads simply ""Critical" flaw found in HealthCare.gov security.

How many people do you think will read the actual article instead of just the headline?