Credit report agency Equifax settles $700 million fine to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in relation to the massive data breach dated in 2017.
The hacking exposed the personal information of more than 150 million people, dubbed as the largest in US history. Sensitive information such as names, social security numbers, addresses, and license numbers was reportedly hacked, which alarmed authorities.
According to ABC News, Atlanta-based Equifax did not find out about the attack until after six weeks. The fine will resolve investigations done by the FTC and the claims consumers filed.
While experts believed that the fine is a little ‘steep’, Federal Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski said that it is a sweetheart deal. He added, “Failure to protect privacy has real harm; we think Equifax should have paid real money, not just go-away money and promised real changes to its sloppy last-century practices.”
Equifax is among the leading consumer credit report agency in America, with over $16.5 billion net worth. With over 80 million customers and 88 million businesses in the US, Equifax data breach issue is trivial as it stores almost a quarter of America’s population.
It can be recalled that the hackers used a software vulnerability that accessed Equifax’s computer systems. It took almost two months before the company disclosed the hacking to the public, which prompted the departure of its Chief Executive.
Cybercrime experts said that information and personal data from the hacking have not resurfaced on the black market or online forums. In most cases, hackers sell these stolen data to various online forums to earn money. Because this is sensitive information, the price for this type of information is high.
The New York Times reports that Equifax already set aside funds for the expected cost of this data breach.
Compared to other corporate data breach penalties, the FTC seemed to be ‘considerate’ with Equifax as Wells Fargo paid $1 billion last 2018. In addition, recent news about Facebook’s penalty for a data breach is also one of the highest-paid fines by a corporate giant in the United States. Facebook paid a total of $5 billion for violating user’s privacy and using the information for Cambridge Analytica.
The growth of digital hacking is increasing each year and big companies are targets and most vulnerable to these attacks. In addition to penalties, corporate entities also need to restore the trust of people and attract more customers despite the security breach.