March 22, 2018

Massive Equifax data breach is even worse than originally thought

03 October 2017, 11:31 | Virginia Santiago

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Richard Smith former chairman and chief executive officer of Equifax Inc. waits to begin a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington D.C. U.S. on Tuesday Oct. 3 2017

Equifax announced Monday that cybersecurity firm Mandiant completed the forensic portion of its investigation of the hack. I will continue to monitor our progress on a daily basis.

Customers of companies including BT and Capital One are believed to have been among them.

On July 29, however, Equifax's security department observed suspicious network traffic associated with the consumer dispute website (where consumers could investigate and contest issues with their credit reports). Equifax's chief information officer and chief security officer also retired last month.

Mandiant's investigation also revealed that a total of 145.5 million US customers were affected by the breach - 2.5 million more than the previously estimated 143 million.

Chief among the failures: an Equifax e-mail directing administrators to patch a critical vulnerability in the open source Apache Struts Web application framework went unheeded, despite a two-day deadline to comply.

July 29: Equifax's security team observes suspicious network traffic on a USA online dispute portal web application.

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Smith said he would expect Equifax to "cooperate" with "particular legislation that arises out of this horrific breach".

Thus far the Equifax data breach puts 145.5-MILLION US citizens in the "potentially impacted" category. The leak left almost half of the USA population in danger of having their information stolen, including social security numbers, addresses and birth dates. In addition, the credit card information for about 209,000 consumers was also stolen as well as certain documents with personally identifying information for approximately 182,000 consumers.

A company employee failed to tell the information team a software vulnerability that hackers could exploit should be fixed, Smith said. He is apparently the subject of an internal investigation, mounted to determine whether he knew about the breach when he approved the sale of Equifax shares held by several executives just a few days after the breach was uncovered.

Equifax is conducting their own review but the executives were not involved in any meetings about the breach and the sales were made during a period when they were allowed to. According to Equifax, the completed forensic review by Mandiant found no evidence of attackers gaining access to databases located outside of the U.S. But financial experts at Consumer Reports say there are two moves you should be considering today: a fraud alert and a credit freeze and explains the difference between them.

Immediately after the disclosure, Equifax faced widespread criticism from the media, researchers and customers. He began notifying Equifax's board of directors on August 22, and convened a board meeting to discuss the scale of the breach on September 1. The scale of the breach was apparently not discovered until mid-August.

The security breach at Equifax is under intense scrutiny after it was learned the hackers gained access through a publicly identified software vulnerability, which Equifax has since fixed.

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