Are you an Equifax customer? Then, heads up! The credit reporting company recently fell victim to a cyber attack. And around 143 million of its customers are potentially affected. More specifically, various pieces of personal customer information were exposed during the data breach. This marks one of the largest cyber attacks in our recent history.
What Exactly Happened?
Equifax reported that they discovered the breach on July 29. According to an official company statement, “Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”
The attackers managed to obtain data from about 143 million customers. Considering that the US population is around 324 million, the number of affected people cannot be taken lightly. In other words, about 44% US citizens might be negatively affected.
What Data Were Compromised?
Further investigation revealed that the cyber attackers managed to obtain a wide range of sensitive and personal information. These include home addresses, birth dates, and names. Social Security numbers and even driver’s license numbers, too. All of these things are supposed to be closely guarded by Equifax.
Aside from that, the firm disclosed 209,000 US credit card numbers were compromised. “Certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.”, their statement further reveals.
Equifax’s CEO, Richard Smith, expressed his deep regrets and apologized to all affected customers. He also said that he is aware that the company failed its promise. That is to protect their consumer’s privacy.
Shares Were Sold After the Breach
One curious thing happened after the data breach was discovered. Apparently, three Equifax executives sold their shares after the attack. This is according to recent regulatory SEC filings. Workforce Solutions President, Rodolfo Ploder, is among them. So are Chief Financial Officer, John Gamble Jr., and US Information Solutions President, Joseph Loughran.
Based on these forms, the three sold about $2 million shares cumulatively. This was done just days after the cyber attack discovery. Was this move done because of the data breach? It is unclear at the moment.
Equifax’s Statement on the Sold Shares
When inquiries were made into the sale, Equifax acknowledged it. According to the official statement, these company executives had no knowledge of the breach. The company considered those shares just a “small percentage”. And that Ploder and company “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.”
At this time, there is no comment from the SEC about the issue. They also declined to acknowledge if they are doing any investigation on the matter.
Gamble offloaded more than 13% of his Equifax shares. That amounted to around $900,00 Meanwhile, Loughran disposed of 9% and Ploder sold of 4%. That’s about $584,000 and $250,000 respectively.
Speaking of shares, Equifax’s value plummeted 13% after the breach was made public knowledge. Equifax shares were traded at $128.81 last Friday. On Sept. 12, trading value further went down to $115.10 at around 2PM.
Cybersecurity Experts Weigh In
The Equifax data breach is causing a lot of stir within the online space. Considering that this is one of the biggest cyber attacks in modern history, that isn’t really a surprise. The CEO of cyber-security company, Soteria, shared his opinions. Christopher O’Rourke said, “This is a security risk for any and every website that anyone uses.”
“Most often, security questions to access those websites use that data, like a previous address.”, he further added. As such, this “becomes an open-source intelligence nightmare, worse in many ways than the Office of Personnel Management government breach.”
O’Rourke also shared how the breach can have a deeply negative impact. “It’s nasty. If I can get my hands on that information I can call a bank. They’re going to ask me for your Social, address, the information that was leaked here, to get access.”
What Is Equifax Doing to Mitigate the Damage?
Equifax is currently in the process of informing all affected consumers. They are doing this via email, so be on the look out for that if you are a customer. The company also reached out to state and federal authorities. According to reports, Equifax is cooperating with the FBI. An investigation into the crime is ongoing.
What You Can Do?
If you are an Equifax customer, it is best to be careful. Whether you have received an email or not from the company, be on the lookout for strange activities involving your personal information. If you suspect something, err on the side of caution and report it to the proper authorities.