Hackers on Thursday attacked a major American credit reporting agency that is entrusted to safeguard personal financial information affecting nearly half of the US population.
Reports indicate that the hackers looted the system stealing information belonging to about 143 million Americans. Equifax said that a hack it learned about on July 29 had the potential to affect 143 million US customers, and involved some data for British and Canadian residents.
According to Equifax, the hackers obtained names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver license numbers from the database. This possess a high risk of identity theft since data stolen is personal information.
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Credit cards for about 209,000 US consumers were comprised in the attack as well as credit dispute documents for 182,000 people.
The Atlanta-based company disclosed the breach in a release a month later but what everyone is asking is why it took more than a month to warn those affected.
Filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission showed that three high-ranking Equifax executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the hack was discovered.
An Equifax spokesperson told AFP the executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.“
Equifax as a credit company collects information about people and businesses around the world and provides credit ratings used for decisions regarding loans and other financial matters.
Equifax released a statement saying that it learned of the breach on July 29 and “acted immediately” with the assistance of an independent cybersecurity firm to assess the impact.
“Criminals exploited a US website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files,” the statement said.
An internal investigation determined the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017, according to the company.
Equifax has gone ahead to establish a website which helps consumers determine if their accounts were affected in the breach and also it would be offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to customers.
Cyber-attacks are continuously becoming a problem and more companies are at risk of being hacked. Yahoo last year reported two cyber-attacks which affected over one billion users
This acts as a warning to the rest out there and proves that better security measures should put in place to protect people’s information.
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project and a freelance consultant passionate about tech, programming, games and entertainment.