Information Security saves lives at the International Committee of the Red Cross

Posted on 08/08/2019

There are currently 32 armed conflicts worldwide and the number of natural disasters is increasing rather than decreasing. Millions of people are affected by these conflicts and crises. One of the most important tasks of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is therefore to bring them the aid they urgently need. Besides that, the humanitarian organisation has the task of alleviating human suffering, protecting the lives and health of the population as well as human dignity. A well-functioning IT system that incorporates new technologies is indispensable for the ICRC’s work: staff and volunteers around the world must be able to communicate quickly and easily with each other and rely on a secure, global connection. If this is not the case, human lives can be endangered. With its technology solutions, VMware makes a decisive contribution to securing the operations of the largest humanitarian network worldwide and to facilitating communication.

Fast and easy server deployment worldwide thanks to VMware vSphere

ICRC staff and volunteers are deployed all over the world and must be connected quickly to the headquarters in Geneva. Often enough they do not have on-site IT support for this. Thanks to data center virtualization with VMware vSphere®, the ICRC is able to easily and quickly deploy new services around the world to meet the complexity of its own infrastructure, having branches and camps in many different countries The ICRC now has over 1,500 virtual machines in the Geneva data center. The security aspect also comes into play with data center virtualization: that’s the reason why we are using NSX, allowing us to micro-segment the critical data farms in our Data Centers

Data Transfer Can Be the Difference Between Life and Death

Security is also an important keyword when it comes to data from crisis areas that the ICRC collects from the people affected there. By collecting personal data, the ICRC can gain a better overview of the situation and needs of the affected local population, especially if the situation is too dangerous to send staff to the area. With the help of this data collection, the organisation can also cover another important area of activity: The data enables family reunification and helps to locate missing persons. However, a great deal of damage can be done with this data if it falls into the wrong hands. In order not to endanger human lives unnecessarily, the ICRC therefore needs a network that is absolutely secure. The humanitarian organization found a solution to this problem in the VMware NSX® Data Center network virtualization platform. The platform was introduced into the ICRC environment in 2017 seamlessly thanks to the long-standing cooperation between VMware and the ICRC. The platform helps the ICRC to continue its work: “As a humanitarian organization, we have a great responsibility. We only collect the data for charitable purposes, a data leak would seriously damage the reputation of the Red Cross,” said Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet, Director of Digital Transformation and Data at the ICRC.

Lindsey-Curtet addresses an important prerequisite for the ICRC’s work: The organization is largely funded by voluntary contributions, so an unquestionable image and confidence in the sincerity of humanitarian work are vital for survival.

VMware’s technologies are instrumental in supporting the important work the International Committee of the Red Cross is doing around the world.  Thanks to the VMware products in use at the ICRC, the organization can focus on its missions and help people in crisis areas as they need it.


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