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Hackers steal organisation's data and leave very vulnerable people exposed

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Huge data hack

Hackers have seized International Red Cross data of more than 515,000 extremely vulnerable people, some of whom had fled conflicts.

The data originated from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies around the world.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said 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.

So far there is no immediate indication as to who might have carried out the attack.

“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 the ICRC director general, Robert Mardini.

“This cyber-attack puts vulnerable people, those already in need of humanitarian services, at further risk.”

And he called on those responsible to “do the right thing – do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data”, adding: “Your actions could potentially cause yet more harm and pain to those who have already endured untold suffering.”

As a result of the attack, the ICRC had been forced to shut down the computer systems underpinning its Restoring Family Links programme that seeks to reunite family members separated by conflict, disaster or migration.

Mardini said: “We are working as quickly as possible to identify workarounds to continue this vital work.”