- Equifax is set to pay up to $650 million in "the largest data breach settlement in history," according to an announcement from the office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James.
- The credit firm's settlement includes up to $425 million in consumer restitution, $175 million to states and $50 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). About $300 million of the consumer restitution fund is dedicated to compensation with another $125 million "available if initial funds are depleted."
- The settlement fines were determined after probes by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the CFPB and a "coalition of 50 Attorneys General." "Equifax put profits over privacy and greed over people, and must be held accountable to the millions of people they put at risk," James said in the announcement.
In 2017, hackers exploited an unpatched flaw on Equifax's website, gaining access to 148 million U.S. consumer records through the vulnerability. The web application had a patch available as early as March 6, 2017, about two months before it was exploited.
In the days leading up to the breach's disclosure in September, Equifax's leadership sold a collective $1.8 million worth of shares. The company has since overhauled its leadership, with its CIO and CISO retiring immediately after the breach was announced.
In testimony on the Hill last year, former CIO Graeme Payne said the credit firm's "aggressive growth strategy" contributed to the "complexity" of its IT system, and therefore an insufficient security posture. Equifax was operating on custom-built IT systems and legacy systems, including one from the 1970s.
The rapid expansion of Equifax's business ultimately left the company vulnerable to security flaws. But it was the actions taken by executives that drew further investigation and condemnation.
Equifax is beholden to the largest data breach fine in U.S. history, though Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a larger overall settlement. Facebook's FTC fine answered to intentional actions, as opposed to Equifax's negligent ones. The social network's reported $5 billion penalty is a warning for future data privacy infringements.