Boston Children's 2014 hacker explains why he did it

In April 2014, Boston Children's Hospital was struck with a series of cyberattacks attempting to infiltrate and crash the hospital's website by overwhelming its capacity. The cyberattacks were in response to a high-profile case involving a 15-year-old patient in which the court took away parental custody, citing medical child abuse. Now, the mastermind behind the attack has spoken out, detailing why he initiated the attack.

Immediately following the attack, the hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility for it. The group indicated the hack was in support of Justina Pelletier, the patient whose parents were under investigation for medical child abuse. Her parents took her to Boston Children's to treat intestinal problems but physicians at the hospital said Ms. Pelletier's symptoms were mainly psychiatric, according to The Boston Globe. The hospital filed medical child abuse charges alleging the parents were seeking unnecessary medical interventions, an allegation upheld by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Ms. Pelletier spent much of her 16-months in state custody in a locked psychiatric ward, reports The Boston Globe.

Martin Gottesfeld was arrested in February for his connection to the attack, and he recently issued a statement to The Huffington Post about why he initiated the cyberattack that eventually shut down the hospital's website and email systems.

"The answer is simpler than you might think: The defense of an innocent, learning disabled, 15-year-old girl," Mr. Gottesfeld wrote in his statement.

He outlined allegations of patient abuse and said the way she was treated was "torture."

Ms. Pelletier's parents in February sued Boston Children's, accusing the system of gross negligence and civil rights violations. At a press conference discussing the lawsuit, Ms. Pelletier said she was mistreated while in the care of Boston Children's. "They really treated me badly," she said at the press conference, according to The Boston Globe.

Boston Children's Hospital said in comments in February, "We are committed to the best interests of our patients' health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care," reports The Boston Globe. The hospital said it could not provide further comment out of respect for the patient's privacy and the ongoing legal process.

Mr. Gottesfeld said in his statement that he launched the cyberattack on the hospital to dissuade the hospital from these "parentectomies" in the future. He targeted the hospital's donation page, as to "hit BCH where they appear to care the most, the pocket book and reputation," according to his statement. He said patients would not be harmed if he targeted the hospital website.

And, Mr. Gottesfeld indicates the steps he took were successful. "There have been no such egregious parentectomies published at BCH since," he wrote.

Click here to read Mr. Gottesfeld's full statement.

Becker's has reached out to Boston Children's for comment. This story will be updated as more information is available.

More articles on cybersecurity:

World Anti-Doping Agency: Hackers leaked Simon Biles', Serena Williams' medical records
Why cyberattacks aren't harming hospital finances
Will 'digital fingerprint' forensics thwart the data thieves lurking in hospital EHR corridors?

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars