Equifax Breach: A Cybercrime That Affected Millions of Americans
You have probably heard about the Equifax breach by now. As far as identity theft crimes goes, this was a big one. An estimated 143 million people in the United States may have had their personal information compromised when cybercriminals gained access to the Equifax database, which included social security numbers and driver’s license numbers.
The breach took place from mid-May to July and although it was discovered on July 27, Equifax did not reveal this breach to the public until September 7. It is estimated that over 50% of those with a credit bureau report was affected.
While this crime did not affect as many people as the 2016 hack on Yahoo, when data on 500 million users was stolen, it has bigger repercussions because of the sensitive data obtained in the Equifax hack. If you have ever requested or seen your credit bureau report, you know that it contains your social security number, your address, your date of birth, your credit card, mortgage, and other credit information, and even your prior addresses, often going back many years. Although a credit bureau report will mask some sensitive data, that data is still in the database and that is what the hackers obtained. This data provides everything an identity thief needs to apply for credit under someone else’s name. The data also provides the information a cybercriminal would need to access the victim’s bank account, employee account, and many of the other accounts we all have in the digital age.
The Equifax breach could haunt unsuspecting victims even years from now. It is almost impossible to prevent the identity theft that can be perpetrated with this information. Authorities suggest that anyone who may have had their information stolen by the Equifax hack enroll in a credit monitoring service that will alert the enrollee if any credit is opened in his or her name. The thing is, this could happen next year or the year after so it is advisable to make credit monitoring an on-going practice.
The Equifax breach is so serious that Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who is a founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, characterized it as a “real threat to the economic security of Americans.” This data can, and probably will be, sold on the black market. It may be used to steal millions of dollars through fraud or much worse. One can only imagine the economic chaos that could be accomplished if this data is exploited by rouge state actors or terrorist organizations.
Cybercrime is an increasing threat to the public and could become the number one crime concern in this county because of the large numbers of people who can be affected in a single instance of the crime. It is not only the stealing of data that is a concern to authorities but also the threats to our infrastructure systems. Although tech experts believe the Equifax hack could have been prevented if the company had properly updated its web-application platform, the vulnerabilities exposed by this breach only portend more to come.
William Weinberg, has been practicing criminal defense law in Orange County for almost 25 years. If you would like a free consultation with Mr. Weinberg concerning your criminal defense matter, you may contact him at his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at email@example.com.