Data of over 515,000 ‘highly vulnerable’ people was compromised following a cyberattack on the Red Cross and Red Crescent networks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) disclosed on Wednesday.
The data leaked during the breach originated from more than 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies worldwide, including data of people separated from families due to conflict or disaster, missing people and their families, and the people in detention.
ICRC has made an appeal to those responsible for the attack to “not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data”.
“An attack on the data of people who are missing makes the anguish and suffering for families even more difficult to endure. We are all appalled and perplexed that this humanitarian information would be targeted and compromised. This cyber-attack puts vulnerable people, those already in need of humanitarian services, at further risk,” said Robert Mardini, Director-General, ICRC.
The cyberattack has hindered the joint program, Restoring Family Links, run by Red Cross and Red Crescent, which aims to reunite family members separated due to conflict, disaster, or migration. ICRC says they had to shut down the systems around the program to ensure safety.
“Cyber-attacks like this jeopardise that essential work. We are taking this breach extremely seriously. We are working closely with our humanitarian partners worldwide to understand the scope of the attack and take the appropriate measures to safeguard our data in the future,” Mardini added.
The cybercriminals targeted an external company in Switzerland that ICRC contracts to store data online. There is no indication of who carried out the attack and whether the compromised data has been leaked publicly.
“While we don’t know who is responsible for this attack, or why they carried it out, we do have this appeal to make to them. Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering. The real people, the real families behind the information you now have are among the world’s least powerful. Please do the right thing. Do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data.”
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