Equifax announced yesterday it has agreed to a set of data security rules imposed by a new consent order with eight state financial regulators, the latest response following the data breach that impacted over 147 million consumers.
Under the consent order, Equifax will be required to conduct security audits at least once a year, develop written data protection policies and procedures, closely monitor its outside technology vendors, and improve its software patch management controls. Hackers were able to gain access to systems last year after exploiting a known software flaw that was left unfixed for several months.
This new order holds Equifax feet to the fire and ensures that if Equifax falls short of any of its new promises, regulators in either Alabama, California, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Texas, will be able to disciplinary action against the popular credit agency.
Equifax claims that they have already completed “a good number” of measures it agreed to in the order, going on further to say, “The findings, with very few exceptions, are not new findings and are already part of our remediation plans.”
To date, Equifax has spent over $243 million following the attack where hackers stole the sensitive personal information belonging to more than 147 million people. This includes spending on legal costs, enhanced security tools, and credit monitoring services which the company offered to victims of the breach. The company has also parted ways with its Chief Executive Officer and other high-level executives in the aftermath of the data breach.
The investigation into Equifax’s data safeguards is still ongoing and the company is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and the Securities and Exchange Commission., among others.
Security best practices recommend hardening systems to maintain security and hack-proof systems. Hardening systems requires all known security vulnerabilities to me eliminate and mitigated. This means that the vulnerability found within Equifax would be been red flagged and alerted to be patched the moment it was detected.
Vulnerability management and maintaining a hardened build standard are inseparably linked to tight change control. Any configuration changes, be it through patching or other types of system maintenance, may introduce vulnerabilities so visibility and control of changes is an essential security best practice.