Hacker arrested for hit on UK 'abortion' website

A 27-year-old suspected hacktivist was arrested in the United Kingdom for allegedly defacing a website offering advice on pregnancy and abortion.

Officers from the UK Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Police Central e-Crime Unit (PeCU) arrested the man in Wednesbury, West Midlands.

"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 stolen data did not contain the medical details of women who had received treatment or why individuals had contacted the British Pregnancy Advisory Service," said Detective Inspector Mark Raymond from the MPS PeCU.

According to the MPS, the arrest stemmed from response to a defacement and data compromise of a website run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

It described the arrested man as claiming to have links to the hacktivist group "Anonymous," which had been linked to several hacking and defacement incidents.

But the MPS stressed no medical or personal information regarding women who have received treatment at BPAS was obtainable.

"The website enables people to makes personal enquiries about contraception, abortion, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection testing and sterilisation," the MPS said.

A separate report on UK's The Guardian said the BPAS website was hacked into and defaced on Thursday, with data on the website compromised.

"Claims later appeared on Twitter that the culprit had accessed the names of women who had undergone terminations and was threatening to release them into the public domain," The Guardian said (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/09/man-arrested-suspicion-hacking-abortion-website).

The Guardian said BPAS is "a non-statutory abortion provider and has a number of clinics across the country."

"It also provides counseling for unplanned pregnancy and abortion treatment and gives advice about contraception, sexually transmitted infection testing and sterilisation," it added.

The Guardian quoted BPAS as saying there were about 26,000 attempts to break into its website over a six-hour period, but confirmed that no medical or personal information relating to women who had received treatment was accessed.

However, the company was forced to take out a court injunction after details of people who requested information via the website was compromised.

The Guardian said BPAS claimed the website stores details (names, addresses and phone numbers) of people who have requested information from BPAS via the website, including those making personal inquiries as well as health and education professionals, the media and students.

"Relevant authorities were informed and appropriate legal action taken to prevent the dissemination of any information obtained from the website ... While the confidentiality of women receiving treatment was never in danger, this episode was taken very seriously indeed," BPAS said.

"A court injunction was obtained to prevent the publication of the data and, in the early hours of this morning an arrest was made," it added. — TJD, GMA News


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