Equifax Failed to Apply Security Patch Available for Months, Leading to Hack

Equifax noted last week its security was breached between mid-May and July, before finally noticing the hack on July 29.

The disclosure suggests that Equifax may have been slow to take basic steps to secure its most sensitive data, and will likely add to calls for stronger oversight of an industry whose information in the hands of criminals can enable the worst kinds of identity theft and fraud. Shares of rival Experian Plc, which trade in London, dropped as much as 6.4 percent on Thursday. Typically the FTC does not disclose who it is investigating, but the agency said the high amount of attention in this case made it necessary.

'Equifax has been intensely investigating the scope of the intrusion with the assistance of a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to determine what information was accessed and who has been impacted, ' company officials wrote in a statement yesterday.

"We are informing the affected members that the data they shared with Equifax may have been compromised, and are writing Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner to express our concern about this breach and to ask that they push Equifax to provide more information to Canadians".

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The Apache software is widely used by companies to help build websites.

Warner said in a letter to the FTC that Equifax's lapses in security and methods of handling customers' inquiries "may potentially represent a systemic failure by firms now incentivized to collect and store highly sensitive identification and financial data for Americans". The vulnerability was Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. "The Terms of Use on www.equifax.com do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the cybersecurity incident".

However, it isn't immediately clear if the hackers attacked the company before the flaw was discovered and subsequently patched up by Apache. "The Equifax breach is an example of where some simple measures like a Web application firewall and patch management could have prevented a breach of unprecedented scale from occurring". While firms usually act within hours or days after an announcement, some companies don't patch for years, he said. "So data security and how we go about ensuring that is something we spend a lot of time and effort on".

In addition to being one of the three major credit reporting agencies, they point out, Equifax is also a data broker.


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