Planned Parenthood’s website went down yesterday after it was targeted by a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) cyberattack — in which hackers deliberately flood a site with massive amounts of data to block users from accessing the site. Earlier this morning, the site was still down, with an error message reading, “Our site is not available due to an attack by extremists,” along with links to find the nearest Planned Parenthood location via Google Maps and phone numbers to contact the organization. At the time of publication, the site remained down, with a temporary message explaining the “normal site is currently undergoing maintenance.”
“This is a new low for anti-abortion extremists,” Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president Dawn Laguens said in a statement, “200,000 people a day count on Planned Parenthood’s website for accurate health information. Blocking people from accessing information on the full range of sexual and reproductive health — including birth control, sexually transmitted infections, healthy relationships, parenting, and preventative care — only shows how far opponents of safe and legal abortion will go.”
The attack marks the second time the site has been targeted by hackers this week: On Monday, the Daily Dot reported that anti-abortion hackers had gained access to the site’s databases, as well as names and email addresses of the organization’s employees. “Extremists have broken laws, harassed our doctors and patients, produced hack videos, and now are claiming to have committed a gross invasion of privacy — one that, if true, could potentially put our staff members at risk,” Laguens said on Monday. Planned Parenthood has called on the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice for help managing cybersecurity.
These attacks come amid ongoing controversy spurred by a string of deceptively edited videos released by anti-abortion activists that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the donation of aborted fetal tissue — as well as reinvigorated Republican efforts to defund the organization.