Anti-Abortion Hacktivism Goes Too Far

A hacker affiliated with Anonymous has gone too far in his pursuit of hacktivism – hacking crimes that target social issues. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) website was compromised last week by a man using the alias Pablo Escobar. The next day, police arrested 27-year old suspect – James Jeffery.

Over 10,000 records were stolen from Britain’s largest abortion services provider last Thursday. BPAS noticed over 26,000 attempted break-ins within a six-hour period that day. The website was also defaced with an anti-abortion message and the Anonymous logo. To make matters worse, Jeffrey threatened to release the information to the public on Friday.

Despite claims by Jeffery that he was able to obtain records of those who contacted BPAS as well as those who received treatment, he was only able to obtain the former. Imagine the horror of any woman who had contacted BPAS in confidence for pregnancy counseling, advice on contraception, or abortion services. It’s unthinkable.

So why did he do it? Because he disagreed with the choices made by two women he knew who elected to terminate their pregnancies. Wow. Threatening to expose over 10,000 women who faced difficult and private decisions simply because you want your voice to be heard is beyond extreme… it’s certifiably crazy. Thankfully the judge agreed and denied Jeffrey bail.

Most hackings today are still motivated by financial gain. But we’re seeing a rise in a different type of hacking motivated by social justice, like the Occupy Movement. Should we begin to worry about this new breed of hackers that think it’s okay to cause extreme social damage just to prove a point?

 

Samantha Shah

As a secret nerd, Samantha keeps close tabs on trends, threats, and headlines in IT security to keep you safe from the bad guys. She believes knowledge is power, so Samantha is always on the lookout for new ideas, tips, and best practices to challenge convention and inspire change.