Major credit reporting firm Equifax has confirmed a data breach that affects a staggering 143 million people in the United States. That’s nearly half the country’s population that is now at risk of having their personal data leaked due to this reach.
It is the biggest known leak in 2017 and among the largest cybersecurity breaches to ever strike the United States. The information accessed by hackers includes names, birth dates, social security numbers and addresses. Some users’ driver license numbers could also be compromised. Notably, the credit card numbers of some 209,000 US consumers and documents with personally identifying information for 182,000 US consumers were also accessed.
“On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan told Fox Business. “Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do.”
A statement by Equifax read:
Equifax today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million US consumers. Criminals exploited a US website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
Equifax also revealed, during the course of its forensic investigation, the discovery of unauthorized access to personal information of “certain” UK and Canadian restaurants. The majority of those impacted are US citizens.
Ironically, Equifax is one of three major companies that monitors consumers’ credit scores after significant data breaches including those suffered by Sony, Target and Home Depot. After suffering its own breach, Equifax is offering its credit monitoring service for those impacted by the incident. The credit monitoring giant is offering free theft protection and credit monitoring for consumers for the next year.
Equifax has established a dedicated website for consumers to check if their information has been compromised. Furthermore, Equifax is also reaching out to consumers whose credit card numbers or documents were compromised.
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