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'Unprecedented' cyber attack on pregnancy advice website

09 Mar 2012 News

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service website was hacked and defaced by what appears to have been an anti-abortion extremist yesterday.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) website was hacked and defaced by what appears to have been an anti-abortion extremist yesterday.

The hacker also threatened to reveal personal details of women seeking advice. BPAS reassured patients that the hacker did not have access to any medical records as they are not stored on the website.

Details of people making enquiries through the website were obtained by the hacker and the charity took its website offline, informed the police and took out a court injunction preventing publication of the data. In the early hours of this morning an arrest was made.

A spokeswoman for BPAS told civilsociety.co.uk that the attack was “unprecedented” and that it was “the sort of attack organisations like the Pentagon have seen”.

Over a six-hour period 26,000 attempts were made to hack into the BPAS website. In a statement on its website, which is now back up, BPAS said: “This incident appears to be the most extreme example of what is now a very concerning escalation in anti-abortion activity aimed at providers and the women who need their services.”

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PeCU) arrested a 27-year-old man who claims to have links to hacktivist group Anonymous, on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act. He is currently being held at West Midlands Police Station.

Detective inspector, Mark Raymond from the PeCU said: “We have taken rapid action to identify and arrest a suspect involved in hacking. This was done to prevent personal details of people who had requested information from the BPAS website being made public. It should be stressed that the stole data did not contain the medical details of women who had recived treatment or why individuals had contacted the BPAS.”

BPAS added that people contact it for a variety of reasons that include inquiries relating to contraception, pregnancy, abortion, STI testing and sterilisation ant that the website receives enquiries from health and education professionals, the media and students as well as women making personal inquiries.