• Inside The Cyber Attack That Took Down Planned Parenthood

    Planned Parenthood has opted to shut down its website following a brief, unsophisticated cyber attack Wednesday, in a move that is at best milking the attack for all it’s worth and at worst a potential PR stunt.

    News of the attack stems from a Planned Parenthood tweet Wednesday claiming the site was under attack by “anti-abortion extremists.” Just an hour later, a follow up tweet announced Planned Parenthood had stopped the “attack” but was taking the site down “for additional protection.” (RELATED: See How The ‘Research’ Sausage Is Made In Latest Planned Parenthood Footage)

    “Planned Parenthood websites experienced a wide scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, a hacker tactic to overwhelm websites with massive amounts of traffic to block any legitimate traffic from getting in,” Dawn Laguens, executive of vice president of Planned Parenthood, told WIRED following the initial tweet.

    The “anti-abortion extremists” who supposedly attacked the site have not been identified. DDos attacks are common, cheap and fairly easy to pull off, two cybersecurity experts told The Daily Caller News Foundation. And it’s next to impossible to track down the perpetrators. (RELATED: White House Says Planned Parenthood Videos Are Fake, Cites Planned Parenthood)

    “Anybody with any sort of connections, that know how to get to someone that has a bot net would be able to run [a DDos attack],” Dave Chronister, a managing partner of Parameter Security who has worked with the FBI to investigate cybercrime cases, told TheDCNF. “So I would assume any organization with [Planned Parenthood’s] reach would have someone, but that would be just purely speculation.”

    Chronister pointed to a high school freshmen who was upset his school got rid of soda machines and was able to pull off a DDoS attack as an example of the relative ease of launching the attacks. (RELATED: Planned Parenthood’s PR Firm Is Asking Reporters Not To Air Undercover Video)

    “There are services you can hire to do the attacks,” Michael Bennett, lead DDoS Strike developer at Security Compass, which simulates DDoS tests on companies to help them prepare for potential real attacks, told TheDCNF. “It’s run like any other web service — the only exception is you have to access it through what’s commonly referred to as the dark web.”

    “And basically they’re online services. You go to the web page, you specify — they offer different types of attacks you can launch against a target — and you order it like almost anything else you might purchase online,” he said. (RELATED: Fetal Tissue Company Tries To Halt New Planned Parenthood Videos)

    Planned Parenthood hired a crisis-management firm associated with the Obama administration this week, following a series of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that show top Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and distribution of aborted fetuses. (RELATED: Fetal Harvester Describes Work In Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic)

    A message on the homepage initially read: “Our site is not available due to an attack by extremists,” and redirected users to a fundraising page. Thursday afternoon the link to the fundraising page was removed and replaced with a phone number to call in order to “make a gift” to Planned Parenthood.

    The homepage now reads: “Our normal site is currently undergoing maintenance.”

    (Screenshot)

    “Attacks can last for days,” Bennett added. “Even on more larger sites — larger companies that do have defenses in place — attacks can last for days at a time, and what will happen is they’ll actually evolve if they’re a more sophisticated attack. So attackers will change the methods they use in order to bring down the site.” (RELATED: Planned Parenthood Shuts Down Site, Blames Mini-Cyber Attack)

    Planned Parenthood did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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