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Red Cross cyber attack exposes personal data of 515,000 vulnerable people

International Red Cross Society said that it remains uncertain who carried out a cyber-attack on the Swiss company that ICRC contracts to store data.

Published:Thu, January 20, 2022 3:30pm

By Shweta Ganjoo

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The International Red Cross Society that is known for helping war victims around the globe has been a victim of a massive cyber attack. As a part of which personal data and confidential information of more than 515,000 'highly vulnerable people', including those separated from their families due to conflict or natural disaster has been compromised.

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"A sophisticated cyber security attack against computer servers hosting information held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was detected this week," the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement. The Geneva-based organisation said that the data originated from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world and that it remains uncertain if the compromised data has been leaked or publicly shared.

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What's worrisome is that the cyber attack could expose the personal data of people who have been separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention.

Furthermore, the organisation said that it remains uncertain who carried out a cyber-attack on the Swiss company that ICRC contracts to store data. Speaking on the occasion, ICRC's director-general Robert Mardini made an appeal to the hackers. "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," Mardini said.

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In addition to this, ICRC said that owing to the cyber attack, the organisation has been forced to shut its Restoring Family Links program, which it runs with the Red Cross and Red Crescent network to reunite family members separated by conflict, disaster or migration.

"Every day, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement helps reunite on average 12 missing people with their families. That's a dozen joyful family reunifications every day. Cyber-attacks like this jeopardise that essential work," Mardini said, adding that the organisation was working to "understand the scope of the attack and take the appropriate measures to safeguard its data in the future."

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