Hackers have hit the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), compromising the personal data of more than 515,000 “highly vulnerable people” globally.
According to the Red Cross, a sophisticated cyber security attack against computer servers hosting information was detected this week.
“The attack compromised personal data and confidential information on more than 515,000 highly vulnerable people, including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention,” Red Cross said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The data originated from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
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The organization said that the most pressing concern following this attack is the potential risks that come with this breach — including confidential information being shared publicly — for people that the Red Cross and Red Crescent network seeks to protect and assist, as well as their families.
“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,” said Robert Mardini, ICRC’s director-general.
“This cyber-attack puts vulnerable people, those already in need of humanitarian services, at further risk.”
The ICRC had no immediate indications as to who carried out this cyber attack.
There is not yet any indication that the compromised information has been leaked or shared 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,” said Mardini.
“Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering,” he added.
Because of the attack, Red Cross has shut down the systems underpinning its Restoring Family Links work, affecting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s ability to reunite separated family members.
Every day, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement helps reunite on average 12 missing people with their families.