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Former Equifax CEO Is Grilled On Capitol Hill Following Massive Data Breach

05 October 2017, 12:52 | Jenny Fowler

Former Equifax CEO Is Grilled On Capitol Hill Following Massive Data Breach

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith came under harsh questioning Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee the second of three congressional hearings on Equifax being held this week

"It's kind of tough to do something until you get the information", he said, "if you don't have the information, how can you make the right decisions?"

"I'm truly and deeply sorry for what happened", Smith said at the start of his testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Sasse's indignation was soon topped by Sen.

Equifax, a credit reporting bureau, exposed a breathtaking amount of highly sensitive data to hackers-full names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver's license numbers. But the "vulnerable versions" of the software were not identified or patched, Smith said.

It is described as a "sole source order", meaning that Equifax was the only firm to be offered the contract. The contract award for Equifax's data services was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities database September 30 - the final day of the fiscal year. She called on Smith to tell the IRS that it's fine to take the contract somewhere else. He said at that point in time the company was unaware that consumer data had been accessed.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to give Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayers' identities and help combat fraud, according to a recently issued contract.

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"Equifax is making money-millions of dollars-off its own screw-up", Warren told Smith during the hearing. He resigned after the breach was announced. Smith was the lone witness at the first of several Capitol Hill hearings this week. Lawmakers accused Equifax of being too lax about securing consumer data, noting that there had been previous breaches over the past four years.

After three hours of grilling, Democrats said today's hearing was not sufficient, pressing for additional hearings with the current Equifax executives, including the CIO and chief legal officer.

"A gold mine for hackers should be a digital Fort Knox when it comes to security", Brown said. Smith said that all that the members of the military could do is to hire a lawyer to act on their behalf.

Warren said this business mix creates a conflict of interest by making Equifax responsible for protecting consumer data while allowing it to profit from consumers' attempts to mitigate the breach.

Smith said he was disappointed in the rollout of call centers and a website created to help the people affected by the breach.

He says human and technological error is to blame for the breach. The company originally reported a year ago that 1 billion consumers were affected. Representative Gene Green said that the company ought to be "shut down", comparing it to a restaurant that failed regular health inspections. Equifax since sent out a statement retracting that language and saying consumers could sue, which they have started to do.

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