Former Equifax chief will face questions from US Congress over hack

WASHINGTON DC- APRIL 4 Rep. Maxine Waters poses for

CEO Richard Smith apologized to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday for a massive data breach reported by the company this summer.

The company said Monday that an outside cybersecurity firm has completed its review of the breach and boosted its estimate of affected USA consumers to 145.5 million, an increase of 2.5 million.

In March, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alerted Equifax to an online gap in security but the company did nothing, said Smith. Smith said that at the time, Equifax knew only that suspicious activity had been detected, and not that personal information had been stolen from the company.

The u.s. agency analysis of credit Equifax has not corrected a vulnerability - known as early as march - which was then used by hackers to access the personal data of approximately 143 million Americans, acknowledged Monday, the ex-boss of the company. Specifically, that after the company was notified that there was a software vulnerability that needed to be patched, "the individual who was responsible for communication within the organization to apply the patch" did not tell the appropriate people to do so. A more comprehensive service, a credit freeze, blocks access to credit files unless a consumer provides a personal identification number to the agency. Smith said that fix was not applied quickly enough.

Additionally, Equifax says that an investigation into how many United Kingdom consumers were affected by the breach is being analyzed in the United Kingdom.

The company said hackers found the weakness and exploited it to gain access to names, Social security numbers and other sensitive personal information. Security experts have warned that the long-term consequences of the hack will be hard to fully discern.


Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, another panel that will question Smith, told The Washington Post in a statement that he hopes the hearing before his committee will offer insight into how data brokers can better protect sensitive information from large-scale breaches.

Smith also said Equifax was "disappointed" with the rollout of a special website and call centers to deal with the fallout from the breach.

Mr. Smith, who resigned last week, has also indicated that they have been informed of the piracy on July 31, but may not have been aware of the extent of the attack.

- Separately, the administration of President Donald Trump is considering replacing the use of Social Security numbers as personal identifiers in the wake of the Equifax hack, White House cyber-security coordinator Rob Joyce said at a conference on October 3, Bloomberg reported.

Latta says laws are already on the books that are created to ensure consumer data is secured safely. The board was alerted the following week and the public on September 7, after the company had made plans for how it would try to help consumers respond. Smith will also testify in two other congressional hearings during the week.

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