The Equifax breach reported this week sets a new bar for exploited PII!
Apparently SSN, name, DoB and in some cases CC data for 143 million Americans was compromised. Given that probably 1/4 of the population has no credit cards (children, the elderly, illegal immigrants, etc.), this means that PII for over half of US card-holders was compromised in a single hack. That’s huge!
What can we learn from this?
First, what not to do? Other firms should learn from Equifax’ mistakes:
- Equifax let this happen, presumably by under-investing in IT security. Did they have a privileged access management system? Effective access deactivation processes? Pen testing against apps? Sound firewalls? 2FA? I don’t know, but I bet some of those questions will come back with a “no.”
- Equifax discovered the breach on July 29 but disclosed Sep 7. That’s a 40 day delay – disgraceful and probably illegal in some states.
- While the Yahoo breach was larger, this one included SSNs and some D/Ls, so the data stolen from Equifax is much more suitable for identity theft. This is bad folks.
- There may have been insider trading – three executives sold some stock after the breach was discovered but before it was public. If they knew about the breach, they are risking jail time.
- Equifax setup a web site for consumers to check if their information was included in the hack. But apparently you have to waive your right to join a class action lawsuit against Equifax to use it. That’s “sneaky” – except that lots of people caught on, so now it’s just more bad press.
Bottom line: Equifax could well go out of business as a consequence of this event and how badly it was handled. I’d lay at least 50/50 odds that this event kills them within the next few years, as litigation works its way through the courts.
Next, what to do?
- Watch your mail for letters from banks or other firms, to see if someone has taken out a loan in your name. Consumers beware, your info is probably compromised!
- Stop using name, SSN or DoB as credentials. If someone calls your IT help desk and you need to authenticate them, this data should be assumed to be public and not suitable for authentication.
- Lock down your IT systems. You don’t want to be the next victim.
- just saw this:
Equifax Faces Multibillion-Dollar Lawsuit Over Hack. That didn’t take long!
- Krebs lambastes Equifax, noting among other things that the web site to check if you’re affected by the breach appears to be bogus – it just returns a random string, and issues a predictable PIN. He also gives good advice (news to me, as I’m not an American), that you can visit his earlier post to learn how to lock down your credit profile, which should offer some protection against incompetent credit rating agencies combined with identity thieves, at no cost.
- It just won’t stop. They were caught with their pants down in Argentina too! admin/admin logins