Equifax CEO Richard Smith Quits Following Recent Massive Data Breach
The CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith is retiring following the embarrassing massive data breach the Atlanta, GA company suffered recently, and the company’s botched response.
The credit reporting agency announced this morning that Smith will retire effective immediately.
Three weeks ago, Equifax disclosed that it had suffered a humiliating hack of its computers. The breach resulted in the compromise of personal information of over 143 million Americans.
Smith was the CEO of Equifax for over 12 years. The company confirmed that his retirement is immediate. He will have to wait until the company completes its investigations of the cause of the breach and how the company responded, to receive his 2017 bonuses, according to an Equifax spokeswoman. “At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward,” Smith said in a statement.
Equifax confirmed that Smith is scheduled to face congressional committee investigators early next month. The companies is also being investigated by other federal agencies including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the data breach.
“Security experts believe the Equifax breach would never have happened if the company had taken the time to patch a known vulnerability in their web software. The patch for that software had been made available for months but Equifax failed to apply it.”
Equifax is one of three major credit reporting agencies in U.S. The others being Experian and Transunion. They operate by gathering information about consumers’ financial dealings and selling that sensitive information to financial institutions including banks, loan companies, credit card companies, mortgage loan servicers and more.
The hack left many Americans feeling helpless and angry since they did not authorize these credit reporting agencies to collect their personal information in the first place. The breach exposed many of these consumers to identity theft and Equifax’s initial reaction showed the company was trying to profit from the hack, a problem they caused in the first place.
“Security experts believe the Equifax breach would never have happened if the company had taken the time to patch a known vulnerability in their web software. The patch for that software had been made available for months but Equifax failed to apply it,” a security expert familiar with the Equifax breach confirmed to The Liberal Advocate News Tuesday.
The company was made aware of the breach back in July but failed to alert the public until September this year. Equifax also initially asked consumers whose private information had been stolen by the hackers to give up their rights to sue in exchange for credit monitoring services.
It set up a website so consumers can file customer service complaints but then liked to fake phishing site.
Company executives sold large amounts of their company stock holdings months before the breach was disclosed. The company later said those executives were not aware of the hack before deciding to sell their stocks.
Two weeks ago, Smith published an op-ed on USA Today where he called the data breach the “most humbling moment” in Equifax’s history. “The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right,” Smith said.
Smith is not the only executive to resign or retire from the company. The company’s top security and information leaders also left in the last few weeks.
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