Equifax – the consumer credit reporting agency have had their data breached by hackers. The agency has information on more than 800million consumers. Alongside Experian and TransUnion, it helps form the three largest credit agencies in America. The breach happened between May and July of this year. So, who is at risk, what details have been accessed and what are the next steps?
At some point between May and July 2017, hackers accessed data of 143million consumer’s personal data through Equifax. The breach was discovered at the end of July. In a disturbing assertion, Dan Goodin of Ars Technica stated this breach is ‘very possibly the worst leak of personal information ever’. Further controversy has followed the company, when it was revealed that three Equifax executives sold $1.8million of their shares in the company just days after the breach was discovered – well before the breach was made public.
What details were compromised?
Personal data such as full names, dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses and even some credit card credentials were breached. These are highly sensitive details, and typically details that banks or insurance companies would use to confirm a consumer’s identity. Therefore the severity of the breach cannot be underestimated.
So who is at Risk?
Initially it appeared that only US citizens had been impacted. However, Canadadians and citizens of the United Kingdom are also at risk. Up to 143million U.S. consumers had their details breached, with those in Canada and the United Kingdom being impacted considerably less.
Equifax stated in September that they had hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant – subsidiary of FireEye, to investigate the intrusion. Shares of the company dropped by 13% upon news of the breach. Since then, their shares have largely struggled. For anyone technologically-oriented, Equifax suggested the breach was caused by a failure to apply a relevant security update two months prior to the breach. For a full statement from Equifax, with several details, click here.
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Equifax have said that they will contact those whose details are at risk. Equifax have set up a website, which is now acting as a hub for key information on the case. This is available here. Helpfully, you can also enrol for a ‘complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring’ if you think you are at risk. Again, Equifax have set up a website to facilitate this process – Click here to access this site. It is expected that a class action lawsuit will be launched soon, which could turn out to be the biggest of all time. It is well worth entering your details on the Equifax website, to check if you are at risk. Feel free to post any questions in the comments.