The entire population of Ecuador – including Julian Assange, who spent years living at the country’s embassy in London -- might now be at risk of identity theft after a trove of personal data was found on an unsecured server, a cybersecurity firm is warning.
The server in Miami owned by Ecuadorian company Novaestrat contained national identity card numbers, tax identification numbers, birth dates and other information on more than 20 million people, most of whom live in Ecuador, vpnMentor says.
The small South American nation is home to just over 17 million people, meaning nearly everyone could have been exposed – but it is not clear if anyone has gotten their hands on the data.
"The information we've received is very serious," Ecuadorian Interior Minister María Paula Romo said after learning about the situation.
Researchers say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is among those whose information was found in the database. The Ecuadorian government granted Assange citizenship during his nearly seven-year stay at the nation's London embassy. According to the firm, researchers found his name and what is believed to be a national identity number.
Experts told the Associated Press that Ecuador does not have mechanisms in place requiring companies to protect personal data.
The information left exposed could potentially be used to commit everything from phone scams to business fraud.
"A malicious party with access to the leaked data could possibly gather enough information to gain access to bank accounts and more," the firm said in a statement.
The data also includes phone numbers and names of relatives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.