A HACKER who stole the personal details of 10,000 women from the website of the UK’s biggest abortion provider has been sentenced to two years and eight months in jail.
James Jeffery, 27, who claimed to be affiliated with the hacking group Anonymous, admitted hacking into the website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
London’s Southwark Crown Court heard how Jeffery decided to break into the website because he “disagreed” with the decisions of two women he knew over their pregnancy terminations.
He downloaded a database of around 10,000 patient records. The database contained the names, addresses and telephone numbers of women who had registered with BPAS. It did not contain any specific medical records.
Jeffery also defaced the website by posting the Anonymous logo on the home page along with an anti-abortion written statement. The court heard both the logo and the statement had been copied and pasted from Google.
Jeffery did not publish the stolen records but used Twitter to boast he had obtained them. He published the name and log-on details of BPAS administrator Clare Murphy to prove he had gained access to the site.
BPAS is a not-for-profit organization that provides pregnancy terminations on the National Health Service and privately.
It is the UK’s largest abortion provider and counsels on unplanned pregnancies and abortion treatment. More than 60,000 women use the service every year.
The court heard Jeffery had originally intended to “release all the details” but had later had “a change of heart,” deciding it would be wrong to do so.
Through his defense team, he claimed in court he was not and never had been a member of Anonymous and that it was “never his intention to be seduced by the organisation.”
But Daniel Higgins, for the prosecution, said Jeffery had told police in interviews that he “had been part of that group from sometime last year.”
The operation to catch Jeffery was swift. BPAS contacted police on March 8 after its computer servers were accessed on 26,000 occasions in one six-hour period.
Police quickly traced the hacking to Jeffery via his Twitter postings and information provided to them by his internet service provider, BSkyB.
He was arrested in the early hours of the following day. Officers found two computers at his property. One was in the process of having its hard drive wiped.
Jeffery will serve half his sentence before being released on license.