John Pisciotta/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Cyberattacks take down abortion rights site twice in one week

Hackers sent out anti-abortion emails using the site's servers.

Feb 29, 2020, 8:39 am*



Mary Emily O'Hara

On Thursday, anti-abortion hackers launched its second attack in a week at the National Network of Abortion Funds’ seventh annual Bowl-a-thon fundraiser website. 

The first attack was on the evening of April 11, with the site having to shut down for maintenance both times. Hackers accessed the site’s email server and allegedly used it to send out streams of pro-life emails to supporters and Bowl-a-thon registrees.

“We are aggressively investigating this attack with cybersecurity professionals and law enforcement,” said NNAF Policy Representative Renee Bracey Sherman in an email to the Daily Dot. “Our highest priority is keeping our community of abortion funders safe.”

The network helps women and girls gain access to abortion services they can’t afford by connecting them with grassroots funds in their area. It also helps reproductive rights activists launch local funds with trainings, tools, and mentorships.

While Sherman confirmed the emails were sent, she told the Daily Dot that she couldn’t go into detail about the incidents because of an open criminal investigation.

According to Rewire, one of the emails contained an image of a fetus with a thought bubble reading, “I hope I grow up big enough to go bowling one day.” Another email contained links that led to the website of Priests for Life, a network made up of smaller faith-based anti-abortion groups.

The NNAF Bowl-a-thon takes place throughout the month of April, and since its kick-off, bowlers have raised more than $670,000 toward a $800,000 goal.

Though this week’s cyberattacks may have slowed down the flow of donation money going to the Bowl-a-thon page, NNAF member organizations have been using Twitter to redirect bowlers and other supporters to their own individual donation pages while the main site is down for maintenance.

As the Bowl-a-thon continues, teams across the nation race to raise the most money while teasing anti-abortion politicians with team names like Missouri’s ‘Get Roy Blunt Out of My Cunt.’ The tradition of punny team names is strong, with Public Cervix Announcement and Ruth Bowler Ginsburg among the 2016 teams.

Cyberattacks against reproductive rights groups and abortion providers have increased in recent years. In July 2015, the Daily Dot broke the story of a group of hackers who attacked the Planned Parenthood website, releasing employee data and other high-security information.

Photo via John Pisciotta/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Apr 14, 2016, 6:10 pm