Equifax, a firm dedicated to monitoring data breaches, got hacked itself and the result is that 143 million people have just had their personal details stolen. Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses are some of the personal items breached, according to Motherboard.
Equifax is known as a trusted source in data security, having been hired by several major companies to protect the credit of consumers after major data breaches. However, it’s company slogan seems to carry a tinge of irony, at the moment:
“You’ll feel safer with Equifax. We’re the leading provider of data breach services, serving more than 500 organizations with security breach events everyday,” the Equifax website advertises.
The population of the United States was about 324 million as January 1, 2017, reported CNBC. The Equifax breach means that well over a third of Americans have had their personal data compromised. Equifax discovered the breach on July 29, and said that the hack had occurred between mid-May and July, according to CNN.
“Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files,” the company said.
Equifax also said that 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were obtained, in addition to “certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.”
Christopher O’Rourke, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Soteria, explained to CNBC the repercussions of what this size of breach could mean.
“This is a security risk for any and every website that anyone uses,” he said. “Most often, security questions to access those websites use that data, like a previous address, so this becomes an open-source intelligence nightmare, worse in many ways than the Office of Professional Management government breach. It’s nasty. If I can get my hands on that information I can call a ban. They’re going to ask me for your Social, address, the information that was leaked here, to get access.”
According to CNBC, Equifax it is now alerting customers whose information was included in the breach via email. To check and see if you've been affected, click on the Equifax link, enter in your last name and last six numbers of your social security number. If your name comes up, Equifax will give you the option of enrolling in free identify theft protection.
The company is also working with state and federal authorities.
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