The nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation, which runs the forum, briefly closed the site Sunday to purge the offending messages and to boost security.
“We are seeing people affected,” says Ken Lowenberg, senior director of web and print publishing at the Epilepsy Foundation. “It’s fortunately only a handful. It’s possible that people are just not reporting yet — people affected by it may not be coming back to the forum so fast.”
The incident, possibly the first computer attack to inflict physical harm on the victims, began Saturday, March 22, when attackers used a script to post hundreds of messages embedded with flashing animated gifs.
RyAnne Fultz, a 33-year-old woman who suffers from pattern-sensitive epilepsy, says she clicked on a forum post with a legitimate-sounding title on Sunday. Her browser window resized to fill her screen, which was then taken over by a pattern of squares rapidly flashing in different colors.
Fultz says she “locked up.”
“I don’t fall over and convulse, but it hurts,” says Fultz, an IT worker in Coeur d’Alene, Ohio. “I was on the phone when it happened, and I couldn’t move and couldn’t speak.”
After about 10 seconds, Fultz’s 11-year-old son came over and drew her gaze away from the computer, then killed the browser process, she says.
Lolz all around I’m sure. Hey, can seizures lead to death? You bet. Did the Anonymous cretin who participated in this attack know that? How could they not? 30 seconds on Google is all you need to learn that it is common for people to hurt themselves during a seizure
Luckily no one died, but that doesn’t minimize the damage of the attack:
Fultz says the attack spawned an uncommonly bad seizure. “It was a spike of pain in my head,” she says. “And the lockup, that only happens with really bad ones. I don’t think I’ve had a seizure like that in about a year.”
Good work, Anonymous. Maybe all those bloggers that were so enamored with your “war” on Scientology will post pictures of epileptics in full Grand Mal with “PWN3D!!!” across the top.