About the Equifax Breach and Why Cybersecurity is Essential
Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting companies that helps its clients make personal and business decisions through the use of data, analytics, expertise and technology. It operates in 24 different countries including the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.
Between mid-May - July 2017, cybercriminals hacked into Equifax, accessing the data of approximately 143 million consumers from the United States. The company learned about this by July 29 and made the breach public in early September. The cybercriminals accessed information such as names, birth dates, home addresses, Social Security numbers and the credit card information from consumers. After extensive research, it was uncovered that the attackers did not access information of people outside the United States.
Equifax reached out to those impacted by this breach and created a page on its site to let users check if they were part of the 143 million consumers affected by the attack.
What many people do not know is that Equifax is not the only massive data breach that has happened in recent years. Yahoo announced a breach in September 2016. The information accessed included names, email addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, security questions and passwords. The IRS was also the victim of data breach associated with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In fall 2016, the IRS became aware that scammers were using an IRS data retrieval tool to access information like names, addresses and Social Security numbers of FAFSA applicants. Because of this, IRS deleted the option to retrieve the information from its files and informed the people who were affected by this breach. Other companies like Target, JPMorgan, Home Depot and eBay have been affected by data breaches as well.
Since then, cybersecurity has been a topic of interest for many. It refers to any technique used to protect the information and integrity of companies, organizations and individuals from attacks and unauthorized access. These attacks cost over $400 billion per year globally, and it is estimated to increase in upcoming years.
These cyber-attacks can occur to any device that is connected to Internet, and the information that is being accessed can be used for breaching the data and sabotage. The information varies from intellectual property to Social Security numbers and can be used for the benefit of the attackers.
Here is how to protect your private information:
- Protect data at your work space
- Be aware of phishing schemes
- Use of proper passwords
- Recognize social engineering. Do not open links from unknown sources
- Make your social media accounts private and do not open links from unknown sources
- Backup your data and update anti-virus programs constantly
Here is what to do after a data breach:
- Review your legal and ethical obligations
- Don't panic — and do not rush your response
- Conduct a post breach review and act on the findings
- Be upfront with your clients
- Implement and enforce policies to protect data
If you have any questions about the Equifax breach and cyber security, contact the Falcon Consulting Group at 800-636-4870 or here.