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Hacker Pleads Guilty To Abortion Website Attack

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A man who defaced an abortion services company’s website with the Anonymous logo has been caught

A West Midlands man purporting to be a member of the Anonymous hacking group pleaded guilty on Saturday to an attack on the website of the UK’s largest provider of abortions.

James Jeffery, 27, of Wednesbury, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Computer Misuse Act of 1990, according to the Metropolitan Police Service. One offence related to his defacement of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) website, while the second was for the theft of personal information from the organisation’s servers.

Defacement

Jeffery replaced part of the website’s front page with the Anonymous logo and stole a database containing names, addresses and phone numbers of people who had requested information on BPAS services. BPAS provides abortions as well as services such as contraception and sterilisation.

BPAS said it detected 26,000 attempts to attack its servers during a six-hour period on Thursday but denied there had ever been any risk to personal data concerning people who had received BPAS services.

Jeffery, who went by the pseudonym Pablo Escobar on Twitter after the famed Colombian drug baron, had threatened to release the personal data stolen from BPAS. Yet he told Westminster magistrates court in London he had decided against this action because it would have been “wrong”, according to a report in The Guardian.

BPAS notified the Met’s e-crime unit following the Thursday attack and Jeffery was arrested in the early hours of Friday, the Met said.

Jeffery was refused bail on the grounds that he was a “zealot” who could put other organisations at risk, said deputy senior district judge Daphne Wickham.

‘Able hacker’

“Many, many other organisations and people’s private details would be at risk,” Wickham said. “You clearly are an able hacker.”

The Vatican’s website was targeted by Anonymous last week, just days after suspected leaders of LulzSec, a group affiliated with Anonymous, were arrested by the FBI with the help of its former leader Sabu.

A number of LulzSec members were arrested in the UK, Ireland and the US. Anonymous took revenge by taking down several websites owned by Panda Security, who the hacktivist group accused of working on law enforcement investigations.

This was the latest in a number of setbacks for the group after law enforcement officials in Spain, Argentina, Chile and Colombia arrested 25 individuals believed to be connected with Anonymous as part of Interpol’s ‘Operation Unmask’. Anonymous were also themselves the victim of attackers who tricked them into installing Zeus botnet code onto their systems.

However, this has not stopped it targeting Brazilian banks in a protest against widespread inequality in the country and secretly recording a conversation about the collective between the FBI and UK e-Crimes Unit.

Jeffery’s sentencing date has not yet been set.

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