Data Breach Exposes 515,000 IDs, More Cases of Synthetic ID Fraud to be Expected?

  • Richard Marley
  • January 20, 2022
  • 3 minutes read
  • 2028

Hackers broke into the servers at the International Committee of the Red Cross and accessed personal and confidential information of over half a million vulnerable individuals. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross, known globally for assisting war victims, says that hackers breaches the servers hosting its data and gained access to the data of 515,000 individuals.

The Geneva-based company stated on Wednesday that the breach by unknown intruders affected the personal information of 5,15,000 people “including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration, and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention.”

The personal information that was accessed by hackers is said to originate in at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters throughout the world.

“An attack on the data of people who are missing makes the anguish and suffering for families even more difficult to endure,” Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s director-general, said in a statement.

“We are all appalled and perplexed that this humanitarian information would be targeted and compromised.” The ICRC stated that the breach was targeted at an external contractor in Switzerland that keeps data for the humanitarian organization. There was no prior indication of the information being publicly shared or leaked. 

Crystal Wells, a spokeswoman of the Agency, said that while the ICRC cannot say for certain that the records were stolen “we feel it is likely. We know that they have been inside our system and have had access to our data.”

She also added that the ICRC had no intention to speculate about the ones behind the intrusion. 

Addressing the person or people behind the intrusion, Mardini issued an appeal: “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.”

This indicates that the ICRC suspects the hackers to be criminals looking to profit off the data for the purpose of ID theft. The Agency also stated that the breach forced them to shut down its “Restoring Family Links” program, which was aimed at reuniting family members separated by conflict, disaster, or migration.

After such a large-scale data breach, chances are that identity fraud cases will further increase in the future. 

Suggested read: – Surge in Identity Theft Frauds During Covid-19