Hackers calling themselves 3301 recently breached a database at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and stole and leaked the names, email addresses and hashed passwords of more than 300 of the organization’s employees, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens told the Times the organization has contacted the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department regarding the data breach.
“We are working with top leaders in this field to manage these attacks,” Laguens said. “We treat matters of safety and security with the utmost importance, and are taking every measure possible to mitigate these criminal efforts to undermine our mission and services.”
Laguens said the data breach could put the affected employees in danger. “Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s healthcare provider in this country, and anti-abortion extremists are willing to do anything to stop women from accessing the reproductive healthcare they are seeking,” she said.
A member of 3301 calling himself “E” told the Daily Dot that the attack was politically motivated. “Trying to mold an atrocious monstrosity into socially acceptable behaviors is repulsive,” he said. “Obviously what [Planned Parenthood] does is a very ominous practice.”
The hackers said they breached the database using a blind SQL attack, and wanted to deface the organization’s website but were unable to because the site’s “backend is so terribly configured.”
The attack comes soon after anti-abortion activists published a series of edited videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood staff discussing the donation of fetal tissue for medical research.
Still, the political motivation may have been secondary. “One of our members is 100 percent against abortion, hence the attack…I can’t speak on behalf of [the others] because I don’t personally know their stance,” another hacker calling himself “J” told Motherboard.
“We’re not going to act like we’re doing this to help people or that it’s for a good cause,” J added. “The truth is we love to hack, and we will continue to hack until we are caught, or bored.”
J said 3301 has four members in four different countries, and is “associated with” Lizard Squad, a hacker group that defaced the website for Malaysia Airlines earlier this year, and launched DDoS attacks against the Sony PlayStation Network in 2014.
Fortscale CEO Idan Tendler told eSecurity Planet by email that it’s worth asking why Planned Parenthood’s security infrastructure failed to detect the intrusion, and whether the hackers could have infiltrated deeper into the organization. “Attackers have the motivation of becoming ‘insiders’ by exploiting such vulnerable websites in order to obtain legitimate credentials,” he said.
“In the coming days, Planned Parenthood will need to continue monitoring around the clock for suspicious behavior, as the hackers were already able to access employee emails, passwords and other information,” Tendler added. “Another intrusion could result in even more sensitive information being accessed.”