Data breach exposes private information of almost an entire country

Rob Waugh
The private information of the entire population of Ecuador may have leaked (Getty)

A huge data breach has exposed highly private information about almost the entire population of Ecuador - has been exposed in a massive data breach.

Details for Julian Assange - who sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years - was also exposed in the leak.

The breach, which stemmed from an unsecured server in Miami, exposed the information of 20 million people, mostly Ecuadorian, cyber security firm vpnMentor said this week.

The small south American country only has 17 million inhabitants.

The data includes national identity card numbers, tax identification numbers and names of relatives.

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According to vpnMentor, the server in question is owned by Ecuadorian company Novaestrat.

Novaestrat has not yet responded to the alleged incident.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said he would push through legislation to ensure stricter data security.

Julian Assange's data was leaked in the breach (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo vowed to hold those responsible accountable.

"The information we've received is very serious," she said.

Experts said Ecuador does not have mechanisms in place requiring companies to protect personal data.

It wasn't immediately clear if anyone had wrongfully accessed the data.

And while vpnMentor said the breach was closed on Wednesday, it also noted the impact of such an event can be long lasting.

The information could potentially be used to commit everything from phone scam 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 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.