Data breaches continue to occur more frequently as time goes on; both corporations and individuals are currently at risk. Although many organizations and individuals claim that their security measures are advanced enough to eliminate the chance of falling victim to cyber crime, in reality, there isn’t a 100 percent possibility of avoidance.
Equifax, one of the top three leading credit reporting agencies, announced on September 7, 2017, that it experienced a serious data breach which may have affected 143 million people in the United States. The company also announced that 209,000 consumer credit card numbers were stolen, along with 182,000 credit dispute documents that contained private information. Other data, such as birth dates, names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers were also put at great risk during the breach.
Equifax claimed to have discovered the breach on July 29, 2017. Executives decided to sell company shares worth almost $2 million after they discovered the hack and before the breach was announced to the public. Although the executives have stated that they “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred” when they sold these shares, their actions have made many wary of the company and has led to a decrease in Equifax stock trading.
In order to start recovery efforts, Equifax notified law enforcement of the hack and stated that it will be mailing notices to those who were affected. The company also created a website where consumers can find out if they were victims of the breach. The website requires consumers to enter in their last name and the last six digits of their social security number for identification purposes, which has sparked some worry because companies typically only ask for the last four digits of a social security number.
In an effort to make amends, Equifax has offered one year of free identity theft and credit monitoring services to U.S. consumers as a result of the data breach announcement. However, as a top credit reporting firm that stores a significant amount of sensitive information, Equifax is and will continue to be a huge target. Rather than signing up for free services from Equifax, consumers may be better of taking security action into their own hands.
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