Security Breach: Hackers Try to Harm Epileptics

In an attack apparently motivated by malice rather than money, hackers recently bombarded the Epilepsy Foundation's website with hundreds of pictures.

As I was browsing the Internet today I read the title “Hackers fill epilepsy forums with flashing images,” I immediately clicked on the link and was absolutely shocked at what was written in the first two sentences:

“Computer attacks typically don’t inflict physical pain on their victims. But in a rare example of an attack apparently motivated by malice rather than money, hackers recently bombarded the Epilepsy Foundation’s website with hundreds of pictures and links to pages with rapidly flashing images.”

As a person who has been living with epilepsy for the last 6½ years and a member of the

’s website, I was initially shocked that people would choose to cause harm to others living with a neurological disorder that can be difficult to control. As I re-read the article I went from being shocked to feeling sick. The question that continued to go through my head (and still does) is “Why?” The article stated that “severe migraines and near-seizure reactions” were triggered in some visitors who viewed the hackers’ images. Aside from the obvious repercussions of injuring and causing pain to victims of this “prank,” imagine if someone who had been seizure-free for some time had one because of this and subsequently lost their driving privileges. I know what it’s like to be without a driver’s license. I lost my driving privileges for more than a year after initially being diagnosed with epilepsy and I hated having to depend on my family and friends to drive me around. It was one of the worst times of my life.

Epilepsy Foundation

It’s obvious (and unfortunate) that there are a lot of sick, twisted people in the world - this is evident from the daily articles that document stories like this - but still, hacking into a non-profit, charitable agency like the Epilepsy Foundation that is “solely dedicated to the welfare of the more than 3 million people with epilepsy in the U.S. and their families” is just unexplainable. Epileptics have enough on their minds without having to now be cautious when visiting a once safe and reliable website to chat with fellow epileptics about the good and bad things that are associated with having epilepsy.

This article made me

the “animated display of London’s jigsaw-style 2012 Olympic logo” that caused seizures and migraines, forcing the Olympic committee to remove it from the official website. It was an honest mistake made by the committee who acknowledged their poor judgment.

recall

People need to recognize that epilepsy is a problem that won’t go away anytime soon. It probably doesn’t help that most people don’t seem to know what epilepsy is unless they work in healthcare.

I’ll admit that before I was diagnosed I hadn’t even heard of it before! I can only hope that current and future research will teach us more about epilepsy so that better treatments can be developed.

Organizations like the Epilepsy Foundation are a place of refuge for patients, families, and friends to let out all of their frustrations, questions, give advice, and much more, but when hackers get into a website’s system the whole purpose of the site is disrupted. The Foundation is no longer allowing members “to post animated images to the support forum or create direct links to other sites, and it is now moderated around the clock.” Although the FBI is involved in investigating the breach, what else can be done to avoid things like this from happening again?