State Department sounds alarm over Red Cross breach

A flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) flies at the humanitarian organization's headquarters in Geneva on September 29, 2021. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)


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The U.S. State Department said the hack of the International Committee of the Red Cross last month was a “dangerous development” that has harmed the organization’s family re-unification mission.

The commentary from Foggy Bottom comes in response to a Jan. 19 announcement from the Red Cross that a cyberattack compromised personal data for more than half a million people from at least 60 Red Cross and associated Red Crescent national organizations across the globe.

“Targeting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s sensitive and confidential data is a dangerous development,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department. “It has real consequences: this cyber incident has harmed the global humanitarian network’s ability to locate missing people and reconnect families. This is why it is so vital that humanitarian data be respected and only used for intended purposes.”

Price also called on other nations to join the State Department and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in condemning the attack.

“To ensure states and vulnerable people can continue to trust and rely on the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the help they need, states should join the ICRC in raising the alarm about this breach,” he said.

The U.S. plea to rally follows others who have pushed for an international response to the incident. It’s not yet clear who was behind the attack, but the ICRC said in an update afterward that it was targeted specifically its own servers and not the Swiss company hosting them.

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data breaches, human rights, international, privacy, Red Cross, State Department