Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 19 (EFE).- The International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday revealed that it was the target of a “sophisticated cyberattack” in which personal data and confidential information of more than 515,000 highly vulnerable people in numerous countries was stolen.
That information had been gathered from and about people separated from their families due to armed conflicts, migration or natural disasters, disappeared people and their families and people who are in detention.
The data came from 60 national Red Cross societies and Red Crescent organizations, the latter being the Red Cross equivalent in Muslim nations, meaning that the records were of people from a similar number of countries, and they were stored in computers of the ICRC, one of the most respected humanitarian organizations and one that operates in the most difficult environments around the world.
The “most pressing concern” 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,” said ICRC director general Robert Mardini in a statement issued from the headquarters of the Geneva-based organization.
“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,” he said.
Mardini said that, at present, it is still unknown who was responsible for the attack and their aims, but nevertheless he directed remarks to them and said that “Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering.”
The ICRC chief called on those responsible to “do the right thing – do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data.”
One of the pirated information packets is linked to a project called “Restoring family ties,” which seeks to reunite members of families separated from their loved ones by wars, migration and natural disasters, but because of the cyberattack the ICRC has been forced to shut down its information systems.
According to the organization, the project enables authorities each day to reunite about a dozen “missing” people with their families.