Researchers at security engineering firm Arbor Networks have discovered a tool that appears to target the federal health insurance marketplace Healthcare.gov with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

The tool, which aims to overload the site with unnecessary requests, is available for download and has been mentioned on social media. Arbor's researchers concluded it is not well-designed, however, and is "unlikely to succeed in affecting the availability of the healthcare.gov site."

The description suggests its author was politically motivated. "Destroy Obamacare," it says. "Obamacare is an affront to the constitutional rights of the people."

It could be a subversive joke

The source is unclear, however, and it could just as easily be a subversive joke. If genuine, it may be the latest example of a "hacktivist" tool.

"This application continues a trend [we are] seeing with denial of service attacks being used as a means of retaliation against a policy, legal rulings or government actions," the researchers write.

While Healthcare.gov has been repeatedly overloaded during its first five weeks of existence, there is no evidence that the site has ever been subject to a DDoS attack.