Following the extensive data breach that resulted in the information of 143 million customers in the US being exposed, Richard Smith, the chairman and chief executive of Equifax, has stepped down from the credit reference agency.
The departure of Smith comes hot on the heels of two other senior executives of the company, the head of security and the chief information officer, a few weeks ago, and in the middle of an internal investigation into the hack as legal claims against the firm mount.
A maximum of 400,000 consumers in the United Kingdom was also affected by the attack, aside from the 143 million customers in the United States whose data was accessed unlawfully between mid-May and July of this year, with information that was stolen including social security and bank numbers, driver’s licence numbers, and birth dates.
Even though UK systems of Equifax were not accessed during the breach, a file containing data of British consumers had been kept in the US between 2011 and 2016. However, Equifax has stated that the file did not include any passwords, financial information, or addresses.
For the “fewer than 400,000” UK consumers affected, the company said that it would give them a free identity protection service.
Smith, during his announcement of his decision to retire, stated: “The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right.
“At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward.”
An independent director for Equifax since 2007, Mark Feidler, has been declared as the new non-executive chairman. He stated: “Speaking for everyone on the board, I sincerely apologise”.
The president of Equifax’s Asia Pacific region, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr, is assuming as the interim chief executive officer, even though Equifax said that it had begun a search for a new permanent chief executive.