As technology evolves, online security becomes increasingly important to both businesses and individuals. The internet offers the ability to access millions of facts and pieces of information with the click of a button, though sometimes it can be used for malicious purposes.
This is a fact that Equifax Inc. experienced first-hand when they suffered a cybersecurity incident that affected nearly 143 million U.S. consumers. According to the company’s statement on the incident, intruders accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. They also had access to credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith said in the statement.
In response to the incident, traders immediately started selling shares, causing the value of Equifax stock to drop. After-hours trading saw the company suffer a 5% drop in their share price.
Given that 68% of funds lost from cyber attacks are never recovered or declared unrecoverable, attacks like this one can be devastating. This attack, in particular, is already considered one of the largest in history.
Equifax is one of the three major credit reporting agencies for consumers, meaning that they are a tempting target for any hacker. This has been the third cybersecurity threat to the company since 2015 because of their size. If a thief wanted to get all the data they would need to cause damages, Equifax is the place to strike.
“This is about as bad as it gets,” said Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit research group. “If you have a credit report, chances are you may be in this breach. The chances are much better than 50 percent.”
Using the data obtained from this attack, thieves can impersonate individuals like lenders, creditors, and other financial service providers. This could have a major impact on the finances of those who are involved. It remains to be seen what action the company will take to correct this or prevent this information from being used.