As the Supreme Court hears the case that will decide the future of abortion rights in America, the Los Angeles affiliate of Planned Parenthood, often a target of ire among anti-abortion groups, has been the victim of a hack that has breached 400,000 patients’ personal medical information.
According to the Washington Post, the hack only affected the Los Angeles branch of Planned Parenthood, but that was enough for the private medical information of hundreds of thousands of people to fall into the hands of hackers, though Planned Parenthood spokesperson John Erickson maintains that “there is no indication at this point that the information was “used for fraudulent purposes.” Per the Post:
“But an investigation is ongoing, he said, and information was compromised for about 400,000 patients of the organization at the center of the country’s fierce debates over abortion rights. Someone gained access to Planned Parenthood Los Angeles’ network between Oct. 9 and Oct. 17, installed malicious software and “exfiltrated” some files, Erickson said in a statement.”
Apparently, the hack came via ransomware, which locks owners out of their own computer systems and files until they pay their extortionists, a particularly insidious move when those owners include medical providers who need that information for the health of their patients:
“Ransomware is a malicious computer code that hackers deploy to block an organization’s access to its own computer network to extort a ransom. Erickson did not immediately respond to questions about whether PPLA paid a ransom and how malware affected its systems.”
In 2015, Planned Parenthood was hacked by a group that said their motivations were both “political” and a result of “boredom.” That hack exposed the names and contact information of hundreds of Planned Parenthood employees. Just last year, the Metropolitan Washington branch of the organization reported that both patient and donor data, including birthdays, medical information, and social security numbers, had been breached.
This latest attack comes as the Supreme Court has taken up the case that could actually overturn Roe v. Wade and also at a time when Planned Parenthoods surrounding the state of Texas, which recently implemented its own draconian abortion ban, have seen a 1,082 percent increase in patients with Texas zip codes.