Equifax data hack: the damage has only just begun…
identity theft

Equifax data hack: the damage has only just begun…

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“On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risks to consumers, this is a 10” – says fraud analyst, Avivah Litan on the Equifax data hack.

It has been months since the Equifax hack, but calamity isn’t about to quieten down anytime soon as the hacking exposed confidential information belonging to some 145 million customers, including almost 700,000 in the U.K.

This particular breach is distinct to others because of the wealth of information stolen combined with the company’s somewhat questionable attempts to mitigate the damage…

Questionable handling of the breach

Equifax’s interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr, was asked whether consumer data was now being encrypted, to which he admitted “I don’t know at this stage.”

Not a good sign…

The company’s epic failings continued long after the breach when their official Twitter feed was linking people to the wrong website having set one up for people to check out information about the breach. This is on top of the simple fact that cybercriminals were not exactly faced with much of a challenge when they exploited a known vulnerability that Equifax failed to patch up. Hackers managed to access an obscene amount of information, and the stolen data is enough to do some serious damage to the victims involved.

Data stolen

Hacked data included:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Birth dates
  • Contact information
  • Driving licence numbers
  • Credit card details
  • National Insurance numbers

For the millions affected, having information like this stolen means criminals could take over their digital lives and / or steal their identity. The 700,000 Brits affected are being notified by “snail mail”, and many are in contract with us and have instructed us to assist with a compensation case against Equifax.

Knowing about the breach is one thing, but things could get worse if criminals decide to utilise any of the information they’ve taken. The questionable response to the breach and what we see as inaction by Equifax has been widely criticised. Security blogger, Graham Cluley, labelled Equifax’s response to the breach, particularly the delay in informing U.K. consumers, as “shambolic”.

What could happen?

This type of information stolen could allow for identity theft. By stealing someone’s identity, criminals can take out loans, apply for tax refunds or apply for benefits, take out credit cards, and all sorts. It could cost someone a lot of money and misery…

Whether criminals have already begun to exploit data hacked in the breach remains unknown, although we have had reports from the clients we act for about suspicious happenings. If information taken in the breach is to be exploited, the damage may have only just begun…

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