Equifax (EFX 112.36, -3.59) has given up 3.1% after the company's CEO penned an op-ed in USA Today, pledging to make changes in response to the recent security breach and data theft.
To recap, Equifax plunged 13.7% on Friday and lost another 8.2% on Monday after the company revealed that insufficient security allowed third-party access to the company's records on consumers. Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting bureaus and the security breach (and potential theft) may have impacted as many as 143 million consumers.
The full extent of the breach is not known, but Equifax noted that credit card numbers for more than 200,000 consumer and certain dispute documents for more than 180,000 consumers were accessed. Individuals who claim to be in possession of the data have threatened to publish the records if their demand for a ransom of $2.66 million is not satisfied by September 15.
Equifax claims there is no evidence that core consumer and credit reporting data were accessed, but the recent developments reflect poorly on the company whose main mission is to protect consumer data.
In today's op-ed, Equifax CEO Richard Smith said the company did not reveal the intrusion for six weeks after discovery, because it originally believed that the intrusion was ‘limited.' Mr. Smith added that ‘extraordinary resources' are being devoted to ensure that another incident of this nature does not occur.
Keep in mind that this data breach comes just over two years after more than 20 million records were stolen from the United States Office of Personnel Management. The increasing frequency of large-scale data theft is likely to fuel demands from consumers for more protection, but there is no silver bullet solution at the ready. Attempted cyberattacks can originate from anywhere in the world and a robust cybersecurity infrastructure can only be furnished by companies who are as aggressive in their quest to protect data as hackers are when searching for new ways to steal information.