Equifax results a ‘stern warning’ to industry over cyber-security

barros paulino

Finance companies have been urged to consider the costs of cyber-security failures after details emerged of the financial impact of a security breach at Equifax earlier this year.

The costs related to a cyber-attack at the global credit monitoring firm totaled around $87 million in its third-quarter results for 2017.

Although the company reported revenue of $834.8 million in Q3 2017, a 4% increase on the same period last year, net income was down 27% to $96.3 million.

Asset Finance International reported in September that data from 143 million customers may have been compromised in the security breach.

US, UK and Canadian residents are among those to have their details accessed through a website application vulnerability.

The attack was discovered to have run from mid-May until 29 July.

Analysis showed that different types of data were accessed for different groups of customers, including email addresses, Equifax usernames, passwords, secret questions and answers, along with partial credit card details, driving licence numbers and phone numbers.

The crisis led to the departure of chairman and chief executive Christopher Smith.

Paulino Barros, interim CEO at Equifax, said: “As we report our third-quarter results, we recognise that we have an important journey in front of us to regain the trust and confidence of consumers and our business customers.

“Our teams have taken immediate actions to improve our data security and provide improved support for consumers who were impacted by our cyber-security incident.

“As we look to the future, I have committed Equifax to four things: protecting consumers, enhancing our security, empowering consumers to control access to personal credit data, and leading our industry to confront the massive economic and national security threats represented by cyber criminals.

“I have high confidence in our global teams, and as we focus on these critical imperatives we will emerge from this an even stronger company.”

Speaking about the results, Andy Barratt, UK managing director of cyber-security agency Coalfire, said the results were an example of the hugely damaging impact a cyber-attack can have for a business.

He added: “It can result in data loss and affect operations in the short-term, but the reputational and financial implications, as Equifax has seen, can also be incredibly significant.

“Equifax’s third-quarter results should be viewed as a stern reminder that cyber-security needs to be a fundamental part of business strategy.”