Cyber-attacks on humanitarians

In January the ICRC was hacked, compromising the data of half a million vulnerable people. But how vulnerable are aid agencies themselves to cyber-attacks?

This content was published on February 8, 2022 minutes

Podcast host Imogen Foulkes is joined in this episode by cybersecurity and humanitarian experts.

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“It’s an attack on people who are already living in the anxiety of being separated from their family members and their loved ones. It’s an attack on their dignity, it’s an attack on their privacy,” says Massimo Marelli, head of data protection at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC has had to take its Restoring Family Links website offline. Who would attack an aid agency, and why?

“We have at least four attacks per week on healthcare. These attacks are high gain, low risk because there is a huge rate of impunity,” says Stéphane Duguin, CEO of the CyberPeace Institute.

How can humanitarian agencies protect themselves?

“The ICRC is not any humanitarian organisation, they are the guardians of the Geneva Conventions, so an attack on them is something special,” says analyst Daniel Warner.

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