One of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, Equifax, announced a massive security breach that will impact approximately 143 million U.S. consumers, according to a statement released on the company’s website.
The news was released months after the data breach actually occurred during the period of mid-May to July 2017.
Equifax Data Breaches Leaks Millions of Personal Records
Equifax explained that cyber criminals exploited a website application vulnerability to gain unauthorized access to files. The information accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. In addition, for approximately 209,000 U.S consumers the credit card numbers and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information were accessed. The breach also leaked information for certain U.K. and Canadian residents. Equifax is working with UK and Canadian regulators to determine appropriate next steps. Here's what Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax, had to say on the security incident.
How to Find Out If Were a Part of the Security Incident
Equifax created a dedicated website for this incident, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their data was potentially impacted. Equifax is also creating a program that will allow those impacted to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, wholly owned by Equifax, is called TrustedID Premier and includes three bureau monitoring reports, copies of your Equifax credit report, the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports, identify theft insurance, and internet scanning for Social Security numbers.
This will be all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year. Consumers with additional questions can contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559 and will be open Monday through Sunday from 7:00 a.m to 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
Protecting Yourself from Cyber Criminals
Every day we hear about more and more breaches, it will be critical to take proactive and preventative steps to protect your personal information from cyber criminals. Cyber criminals can use many tactics to gain unauthorized access to your personal information, including phishing or email scams, phone scams, and more.
The most effective way to protect your personal information and your identify is with a credit freeze. A credit freeze allows you to lock up your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you will know. You can then use this PIN when you need to apply for credit and services needed. It’s an added security measure that you can use to protect your personal identity.
When you freeze your credit files, it has no negative impact on your current lines of credit, and you continue to use them as normal.
Protecting Your Business from Data Breaches
We recently discussed how data breaches can impact a business from a financial and brand reputation perspective. Read more about these impacts here in this blog: Measuring Information Security ROI: The Simple Formula.
Phishing scams are becoming more and more pervasive and aggressive. You can follow the tips in this blow to help protect yourself and your business from cyber criminals: Phishing Schemes Are Nastier Than Ever in 2017.
Endpoint agents are helpful technologies that can help stop an attack as it starts. Read more about them here in this blog: 5 Effective Ways to Prevent a Data Breach.
Lastly, ransomware has become more and more prevalent in all sizes of business. User training is a very effective way to mitigate phishing attempts against your organization which could result in a data breach. More on how to set up phishing training in this blog: What’s Next After WannaCry? Practical Tips for Combating Ransomware.