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Equifax Hack: Assessing The Data Breach

Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. (Mike Stewart/AP)
Credit monitoring company Equifax says a breach exposed social security numbers and other data from about 143 million Americans. (Mike Stewart/AP)

The huge hack at Equifax. Millions of Americans’ most sensitive personal information is now out there for sale to thieves and governments. What do we do to fix this?

The story of how Equifax exposed the personal data of 143 million Americans to a lifetime of fraud and abuse can kind of make your head explode. We have to deal with credit rating agencies to operate in this world. And then, a giant one turns around and effectively throws our security and privacy in the street, and now we all have to scramble to have a prayer of not getting burned. While they still make money. Off us. Up next, On Point: The Equifax debacle, and how to survive it. — Tom Ashbrook


Lily Hay Newman, staff writer covering security for (@lilyhnewman)

William McGeveran, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law and author of “Privacy and Data Protection Law” (@BillMcGev)

Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs and the former deputy director and then-director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division (@Lisa_PubCitizen)

Tom’s Reading List

Wired: The Equifax Breach Exposes America’s Identity Crisis — “The personal security situation on the internet as it stands now is certainly fraught, but it would be possible for organizations to implement strong and diverse authentication factors that cut down on the dramatic exposure that currently exists with SSNs.”

CNN Money: Equifax hack: What’s the worst that can happen? — “If the stolen information from Equifax gets into the wrong hands, experts say data thieves can open bank accounts, lines of credit, new credit cards and even drivers’ licenses in your name. They can saddle you with speeding tickets, steal your tax refund, swipe your Social Security check and prevent you from getting prescription drugs.”

Bloomberg: The Category 5 Equifax Hurricane — “We just have to take a moment and let our collective jaws hang open in abject stupefaction. We have seen so many other big breaches over the last few years (Yahoo!, Target Corp., etc.) that we have become inured to these kinds of incidents, and the attendant masses of potential victims. But really—Equifax?! Along with TransUnion and Experian Plc, the company’s primary mission is to compile, store and disseminate personal information on customers to creditors who want to know if they are making good loans or not. And to do it securely! That’s all.”

Washington Post: Equifax finally responds to swirling concerns over consumers’ legal rights — “Sharp-eyed social media users have combed through the Equifax data breach site’s fine print — and found what they argue is a red flag. Buried in the terms of service is language that appears to bar those who enroll in an Equifax credit monitoring program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident.”

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