Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies in America, which makes an announcement the company just issued particularly disconcerting. An authorized third party gained access to Equifax data on as many as 143 million Americans. That’s nearly half the population of the United States as of the last census.
Equifax announced the incident this afternoon. According to the report, the breach was discovered on July 29th. Included among files accessed by hackers was a treasure trove of personal data: names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses.
In some cases — Equifax states around 209,000 — the records also included actual credit card numbers. Documentation about disputed charges was also leaked. Those documents contained additional personal information on around 182,000 Americans.
So how did hackers gain access to the Equifax data? By exploiting a vulnerability on one of the company’s U.S.-based web servers. On the surface, at least, that seems to indicate that one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus was victimized by a relatively unsophisticated attack.