Ransomware Attack on Planned Parenthood LA Reveals Information on 400,000 Patients

Hackers were able to access files containing personal information from hundreds of thousands of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles patients with a ransomware attack that took place in October, according to a report of The Washington Post. AN letter sent to affected patients by Planned Parenthood explained that the files contain patient names and “one or more of the following: address, insurance information, date of birth, and clinical information, such as diagnosis, procedure and/or prescription information.”

Planned Parenthood says the ransomware was installed on its network sometime between October 9 and 17. On the 17th, the organization noticed the break-in, took its systems offline and contacted law enforcement and cybersecurity investigators. By early November, it had determined what the hackers had access to, but it is still in the dark about the perpetrator of the attack. according to CNN.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood LA told: The Washington Post that it did not appear as if the information had been “used for fraudulent purposes” and told CNN it did not appear to be a targeted attack. But the data could be valuable if hackers choose to sell it, given its highly sensitive nature: Planned Parenthood offers not only abortions, but also birth control, STD testing, and hormone therapy for trans patients, along with a host of other medical services. According to CNN, the data was limited to Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

The cyber attack and data breach come at a time when abortion rights are under pressure, especially in the US. The Supreme Court is currently considering a case to determine the legality of a law in Mississippi that prohibits abortions from 15 weeks of pregnancy (as opposed to the 23 weeks established by) Roe v. Wade), and earlier this year Texas made it illegal to have an abortion after just six weeks of pregnancy. Texas law means abortion will not be a legal option by the time most people find out they are pregnant.

Ransomware attacks were also a major problem this year, with the US Treasury reporting that payouts from the attacks could be on track to exceed a billion dollars by 2021 alone. CNN say a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood LA did not answer questions about whether a ransom was demanded in this case.