Do You Remember The Equifax Data Breach? Well, they have a plan to give free TrustedID Premier identity protection services to victims and anyone else in the U.S. who wanted it. The deadline is Wednesday (Jan. 31) according to ConsumerReports.
The 2017 #Equifax data breach affected 145.5 million people. #PORAC wants to remind you to protect your credit and your peace of mind by signing up for free credit monitoring at https://t.co/HLhSbeJZeS (deadline is Jan 31st!)
— PORAC (@PORACalifornia) January 30, 2018
News broke earlier about a data breach at Equifax that potentially affected 146 million Americans nationwide. Equifax, being one of the three major credit reporting agencies, holds a ton of extremely sensitive information that can be highly detrimental if a breach like this one were to happen, including Social Security Numbers and Drivers License Numbers.
Other materials were stolen in the hack as well, including names, birth dates, and addresses. Over 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen as well, giving the hackers access to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. The information that they were able to siphon can give them access to medical records, bank accounts, and employee accounts.
This is not the first time Equifax had a cybersecurity threat either, they have had two others since 2015. Both times, W-2 information, which involves employment payments and tax information, was stolen from Equifax. According to Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum:
“This is about as bad as it gets, If you have a credit report, chances are you may be in this breach. The chances are much better than 50 percent.”
An investigation has revealed that the hackers exploited weak spots in the systems software, giving them access to numerous files in the database from May to July. Equifax has since fixed the problem.
A further 167,000 victims of the Equifax data breach will receive a letter from the firm warning them that the May 2017 hack may have left them at greater risk of fraud.
Received a letter but aren't sure it's genuine?
📞 Call Equifax on 0800 587 1584 https://t.co/SWIhGgF0KT
— Which? (@WhichUK) January 23, 2018
Various Cybersecurity professions have criticized the company, however, for their lack of tightened security after the previous two breaches. They claim that Equifax should have had several levels of control, that even if a hacker breaks in, they will be blocked before they can do much else.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Richard F. Smith, chairman and chief executive of Equifax.“Confronting cybersecurity risks is a daily fight.”
However, this is a little too late for the CEO. The hackers can now easily impersonate people and take out loans, credit cards, and make purchases. Equifax has made a website to help consumers know if their data was breached, but the damage has already been done.
“Cyberwar is in large part conducted through data mining and cyberintelligence,” said Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst at Gartner. “This is also a Homeland Security risk as enemy nation-states build databases of Americans that they then use to get to their targets, for example, a network operator at a power grid, or a defense contractor at a missile defense company.”
Even Sen. Mark R. Warner, who co-founded the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus had this to say. “It is no exaggeration to suggest that a breach such as this — exposing highly sensitive personal and financial information central for identity management and access to credit — represents a real threat to the economic security of Americans,”
Equifax has since dropped charges for people who want to freeze their credit scores, and even is offering a year of complimentary protective services to refund stolen money to anyone who has their identity stolen.
Only time will tell if American’s will be safe from the hackers, but as Lifelock subscriptions are skyrocketed in the past week, it’s better to be safe than sorry.