Equifax Cyberattack to Affect 143 Million Customers

Equifax Cyberattack to Affect 143 Million Customers

The Atlanta-based company announced the hack on Thursday, and said that intruders were able to access customers' Social Security numbers, addresses, names, birthdays, driver’s license numbers and more.

Equifax, one of the top three leaders in consumer credit report agencies, has been hit with one of the biggest cyberattacks in recent years, potentially compromising sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and home addresses for 143 million Americans.

The Atlanta-based company announced the hack on Thursday, and said that intruders were also able to access names, birthdays and driver’s license numbers. Credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers were also stolen, while documents with personal information used in disputes for 182,000 people were taken as well.

The company said that it discovered the intrusion on July 29, when they learned cyber criminals had gained access to certain files in their system from mid-May to July by exploiting a “vulnerability” in website software, according to an investigation by Equifax and security consultants. No evidence of unauthorized activity on its main consumer or commercial credit reporting databases has been found since the hack’s discovery.

“This breach is totally inexcusable,” Mike Schultz, CEO of Cybernance, said. “This wasn’t a technical assault – this was a simple access by hackers through web application that was not properly secured.”

According to their website, Equifax handles data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, and manages a database with employee information from more than 7,100 employers.

This is the most high-profile cybersecurity breach since online portal Yahoo reported two separate incidents last year, disclosing breaches that affected at least 1.5 billion users. Equifax isn’t a stranger to cyber security issues either, identity thieves successfully made off with critical W-2 tax and salary data from their website last year. And earlier this year, thieves stole more W-2 tax data from an Equifax subsidiary, TALX, which provides online payroll, tax and human resources services to some of the country’s largest corporations.

“This critical breakdown of internal defenses is no different than every major breach of significance in the past two years,” Schultz said, “but the sensitive information accessed points to extreme danger for the personal wealth and financial health of our economy.”

Equifax said Thursday that it will offer free credit monitoring services to all U.S. consumers for one year and has created a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine whether their data was at risk.

In addition to reporting the security breach to law enforcement, Equifax hired a cybersecurity firm to conduct a review to determine the scale of the invasion; the investigation is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks.

“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Richard F. Smith, chairman and chief executive of Equifax, said in a statement. “Confronting cybersecurity risks is a daily fight.”

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