In May 2017, it was revealed that Equifax has joined other high-profile companies including Marriott, Home Depot Inc., Target Corporation, Anthem, Blue Cross, and Yahoo! as a victim of cyberattacks. Equifax is one of the largest credit-rating companies in the United States and operates or has investments in 24 countries and employs over 11,000 employees worldwide. Hackers gained access to the Equifax network in mid-May 2017 and attacked the company for 76 days. In July 29, 2017, Equifax staff discovered the intrusion during routine checks of the operating status and configuration of IT systems. This was 76 days after the initial attack. Hackers accessed Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and some driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers, which impacted over 148 million people. The security system at the company did not keep up with the aggressive company growth and the company failed to modernize its security system. According to the report the company did not take action to address vulnerabilities that it was aware of prior to the attack. According to Equifax, hackers exploited a software vulnerability known as Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. This vulnerability was disclosed back in March 2017. There were clear and simple instructions of how to fix the problem from the software provider Apache. It was the responsibility of Equifax to follow the recommendations offered by Apache right away. According to Apache, software patches were made available in March two months before hackers began accessing Equifax data. In addition to the previously mentioned vulnerability, the hackers found a file containing unencrypted usernames and passwords. Hackers also found an expired security certificate on a device for monitoring network traffic. This indicated that Equifax did not detect that data was being stolen. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report indicated that the hack took place because Equifax failed to segment its databases into smaller networks. This, in turn, allowed the attackers a direct and easy access to all of its customers’ data. As part of fixing the security issues the company hired a new chief information security officer, Jamil Farshchi, and has invested $200 million on data security infrastructure.
Answer the following questions in a Microsoft® Word document and save the file on your computer with your last name in the file. (Example: module_05_case1_Jones.doc)
- Which vulnerability enabled hackers to breach the security system at Equifax?
- Was the breach preventable? Discuss.
- How is the company going to stop future attacks?