Planned Parenthood reports second website hack in a week

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Planned Parenthood Investigating Claims of Website Hack


Planned Parenthood said electronic traffic to its websites was snarled by computer hackers on Wednesday in the second cyber attack mounted against the healthcare organization this week amid a controversy over alleged sales of aborted fetal tissue.

Websites operated by Planned Parenthood and its political branch, Planned Parenthood Action, were clogged by a wide-scale "distributed denial-of-service," or DDoS, attack, the organization said.

In such attacks, a web server is deliberately flooded with massive amounts of data to block access from legitimate users.

Service was restored shortly after the attack, but the group opted to keep its websites offline for the remainder of the day "to ensure that we are fully protected," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

Check out photos of the Planned Parenthood protests:

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Planned Parenthood reports second website hack in a week
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women's access to reproductive health care on ``National Pink Out Day'' at Los Angeles City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women's access to reproductive health care on ``National Pink Out Day'' at Los Angeles City Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman (L) prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocates block 4th St. N.E. during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 16: Protesters hold signs protesting Planned Parenthood in front of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition urged the Republican leadership not to give taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate near a Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. The protestors are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
An opponent and supporter of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Kathy Calver adjusts signs she placed on her shoes as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Director of Planned Parenthood of Utah Karrie Galloway speaks during Sex, Politics And Film Hosted By Lena Dunham And Planned Parenthood Action Fund - 2015 Park City at Wahso Asian Grill on January 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Visitors to Planned Parenthood sites, which serve some 200,000 people a day seeking information on reproductive health, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, parenting, abortion and other topics, were being redirected to its Facebook pages for the time being, Laguens said.

The cyber attack, she said, "only shows how far opponents of safe and legal abortion will go."

It was the second time in as many days Planned Parenthood's websites were reported to have been breached by hackers.

The group said on Tuesday it had notified the FBI that "extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood's mission and services" had launched an attack on its information systems.

The group gave few details of that incident, except to say the privacy and safety of its staff had been threatened. The Daily Dot online newspaper reported that hackers had gained access to Planned Parenthood's website databases and the names and email addresses of its employees.

The Daily Dot reported the hackers, who called themselves "social justice warriors," said they planned to release the organization's internal emails soon.

Planned Parenthood has undergone growing scrutiny in recent weeks over two secretly recorded videos that critics said showed the group was involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

Planned Parenthood insists it has broken no laws because abortion providers are allowed to charge costs to cover expenses associated with fetal tissue donations. On Wednesday, the group called for a blue-ribbon panel to review policies surrounding fetal tissue research.

Senate Republicans are seeking to cut all federal funding, $500 million a year, that Planned Parenthood receives and redirect that money to other providers of women's health.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Tait)

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