Personal information of almost 700,000 Britons hacked in cyber-attack
Equifax has disclosed that almost 700,000 UK clients have had their personal information accessed following a cyber-attack, a figure far higher than previously thought. As well as affecting more Britons, the hack also resulted in expressively more damaging data being leaked on those who were affected. The information lost by the US credit monitoring firm included partial credit card details, phone numbers and driving licence numbers. The Info Commissioner’s Office said that it was still examining the company, which had initially claimed just 400,000 British residents had been affected. “We continue to investigate what happened at Equifax and how UK citizen’s information came to be compromised,” an ICO spokesperson confirmed. “It is a complex and fast-moving case and we are employed sensibly with other UK controllers and our counterparts in the US and Canada. “We have been pressing Equifax to confirm the scale and any impact on UK citizens and, from the outset, we advised the firm to alert and support victims.” Equifax – based in Georgia, Atlanta – exposed the hack in July but only up-to-date customers last month, leading the information commissioner to order the company to inform British residents “at the earliest opportunity” if their personal information had been put at risk.
Lenders rely on the info collected by credit bureaux such as Equifax to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards. Equifax said a file covering 15.2m UK records, dated between 2011 and 2016, was hacked and included data from “actual” clients, as well as test and duplicate data. The company said its investigation found that it would need to contact 693,665 British clients by post to tell them how to protect against any potential risk. Almost 13,000 clients had an email address associated with their Equifax.co.uk account accessed in 2014, while just under 15,000 consumers had portions of their Equifax membership details – such as username, password, secret questions and answers and partial credit card details – accessed. Patricio Remon, Equifax’s Europe chief, again apologized to anyone affected by the hacking. “It has been undesirable that we have not been able to contact consumers who may have been impacted until now, but it would not have been appropriate for us to do so until the full facts of this complex attack were known, and the full forensics investigation was completed,” he said. Anyone who is sent a letter by Equifax should take advantage of the help offered to protector against potential risks.