UNICEF leaks personal data of 8,000 users

The security leak was quickly and proactively remedied and it's confident that it won't face a GDPR probe

UNICEF

The United Nations' children's agency UNICEF has leaked thousands of individuals' personal data through its online learning portal Agora.

An email was mistakenly sent on 26 August to 20,000 Agora users containing the private data belonging to 8,253 people who enrolled on the platform's immunisation courses.

Agora offers courses on child rights, humanitarian action, data, research and is used by UNICEF staff and members of the public.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"This was an inadvertent data leak caused by an error when an internal user ran a report," said Najwa Mekki, media chief at UNICEF in an email to Devex.

"The personal information accidentally leaked may include the names, email addresses, duty stations, gender, organization, name of supervisor and contract type of individuals who had enrolled in one of these courses, to the extent that these details were included in their Agora user's profile."

UNICEF became aware fi the incident a day after the email was sent and remedied the situation to "prevent such an incident from reoccurring".

Agora users were sent an email explaining the situation which then asked them to delete the spreadsheet full of data they may have received from their inboxes and their recycle bins too. The email also included an apology from UNICEF.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"Cybercriminals continue to build their database of account details and credentials," said Lisa Baergen, director at NuData Security.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"I continue to advise users to change their passwords immediately after being informed of a breach while not clicking on any links in unexpected emails, and to use unique passwords for each account they create."

Whether UNICEF will be subject to a GDPR investigation is undetermined as of yet, with some experts thinking that UNICEF may avoid one as it's a United Nations (UN) organisation.

Clare Sullivan, managing director of CyberSMART told Devex that UNICEF will probably be exempt from a GDPR probe as a UN body but it's something that still hasn't been tested in court.

Mekki, however, took a more absolute approach when addressing the question and said: "UN entities are not subject to GDPR" and that UNICEF did not report the case to authorities.

"The fact that UN organisations are not subject to GDPR should not mean that data protection practices should fall off the radar," said Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4.

"All companies - and specifically intergovernmental organisations - should look to improve their cyber security posture, ensuring all staff are aware of their responsibilities."

Featured Resources

Key considerations for implementing secure telework at scale

Identifying the security risks and advanced requirements of a remote workforce

Download now

The State of Salesforce 2020

Your guide to getting the most from Salesforce

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Rethink your cybersecurity strategy for the new world

5 steps to secure the enterprise and be fit for a flexible future

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Andrew Daniels joins Druva as CIO and CISO
Cloud

Andrew Daniels joins Druva as CIO and CISO

22 Jul 2020
University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million
ransomware

University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million

30 Jun 2020
Australia announces $1.35 billion investment in cyber security
cyber security

Australia announces $1.35 billion investment in cyber security

30 Jun 2020
CSA and ISSA form cyber security partnership
cloud security

CSA and ISSA form cyber security partnership

30 Jun 2020

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

3 Aug 2020
How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

4 Aug 2020
UN report points to a 350% rise in phishing websites at start of 2020
phishing

UN report points to a 350% rise in phishing websites at start of 2020

7 Aug 2020