Another Bumpy Week for Equifax: Virus Hits Website, IRS Suspends Contract and Hacked UK Residents Notified
It was another chaotic week for Equifax Inc., still scrambling to stem the torrent of bad news after its massive data breach last month that has potentially affected more than half of the U.S.’s adult population.
Here’s a quick rundown of last week’s developments:
- Close Call – A malicious virus – apparently from an Equifax vendor – stirred reports of another data breach when the credit reporting agency took an online portal down as a precautionary measure. The company says that a vendor it uses to collect website performance data was at fault and there was not another hack. “[T]he vendor's code was removed from the webpage and we have taken the webpage offline to conduct further analysis," said the company. Below is a screen shot of the affected webpage:
- IRS Halts Contract – The Internal Revenue Service has suspended a $7.25 million contract that it signed with Equifax last month for taxpayer and personal identity verification services. At the time, the IRS considered Equifax a “sole source” – meaning that only Equifax was purportedly able to deliver the services sought by the agency. Not surprisingly, the reaction from Congress was swift and scathing. In a letter to the IRS, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), immediately expressed her “deep concern” over the agency’s decision to “move forward with this contract in light of the ongoing investigations.” Other lawmakers have expressed similar sentiments. For now, the IRS contract is on hold.
- 15 Million UK Records Attacked – And in a public filing last week, Equifax’s UK subsidiary disclosed that a file “containing 15.2 million UK records dating from 2011 to 2016 was attacked” and that nearly 700,000 UK consumers would be notified of the breach. The compromised information includes email addresses, user names, passwords, secret questions and answers, partial credit card details, drivers’ license numbers and telephone numbers. It’s unclear from the company’s press release exactly what’s in the more than 15 million files. “The balance of the … records potentially compromised may contain the name and date of birth of certain UK consumers, although the Company does not believe this introduces any significant risk to such individuals.”
- Stock Continues to Sag – Equifax Inc. stock – trading at $142 per share before the breach was disclosed early last month – has settled into a trading range near $110 per share. That’s more than 30% drop.