Monthly Archives: September 2017

Best and Worst Security Functions to Outsource

Best and Worst Security Functions to Outsource

Which security functions are best handled by third parties, and which should be kept in-house? Experts weigh in.


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Security teams need more advanced people than they can find or afford. For many, outsourcing has become key to bridging the skills gap and addressing tasks they lack budget or talent to do.

Dark Reading’s report “Surviving the IT Security Skills Shortage” found 45% of businesses don’t outsource any of their security functions. Nearly 30% outsource a few hard-to-find skills and services, and 22% outsource some security functions while relying on third-party service providers for others. Six percent outsource most of their security tasks to third parties.

It’s possible to outsource just about any security function, says IP Architects president John Pironti, but just because you can outsource doesn’t mean you should. The question, he says, is where do you want your team to focus its time and attention?

“You have to calibrate expectations of what a third party will provide,” he explains. “They will not have the same interest or passion in your world as you will.”

Some security functions are best left in-house, Pironti adds, because they require intimate knowledge of business infrastructure and processes. Organizations will continue to master this balance as security threats evolve and multiply.

Outsourcing is more involved than simply passing off responsibilities to other people, adds Ryan LaSalle, global managing director for growth and strategy at Accenture. You have to work with providers to manage the functions you’re outsourcing and how they’re being performed.

No matter which functions you outsource, it’s critical to define expectations and processes for your partner firm, says Pat Patterson, VP of enterprise security solutions at Optiv. Most of the time, companies end up disappointed because they didn’t communicate what they needed.

“The better you as a customer can define expectations and requirements, the more prepared you will be to leverage that relationship,” he explains.

Which functions to outsource, and which to handle in-house? Read on to see the experts’ list of the most common and beneficial security functions to outsource, as well as the tasks that should be kept in-house.

(Which functions do you outsource, or which are you considering outsourcing? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.)  

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.


Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio


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Equifax mea-culpas with free credit “locks” forever

Equifax’s mea-culpa-ing by offering free credit locks for life starting on 31 January.

These are not credit freezes, mind you. No, Equifax is giving away credit padlocks that it says are a new service.

We don’t know much about the credit locks outside of what Equifax’s new interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., said in an editorial published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the day after he was appointed.

Barros got his new gig the same day that Equifax’s previous CEO, Richard Smith, washed his hands and walked away from the embarrassing mess. That is, Smith washed his hands, but he didn’t wash off the $18 million pension he took with him after his 12 year tenure.

Barros said the credit locks will be easy for consumers to lock and unlock, unlike credit freezes, which require PINs (yes, those PINS) to unlock … and which stop thieves dead in their tracks … and which cost the credit bureaus money they’d otherwise make by banks, credit card companies, cell phone companies or the like pulling customers’ credit reports, as the New York Times explains.

The data monger has a lot to mea culpa about. The credit lock freebie-4-ever comes three weeks after Equifax’s breach affected about half of everybody in the US, 400,000 in the UK and 100,000 in Canada.

…mind you, it was a breach that was enabled by a critical RCE (Remote Code Execution) flaw for which patches had been available for two months before the mid-May attack.

Equifax has been pratfalling ever since, as Barros is well aware.

As ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker reported, a XSS (Cross-site scripting) vulnerability was found in Equifax’s fraud alerts website—a flaw that could be used in phishing emails to trick consumers into turning over personal data.

And there was that leaky customer portal in Argentina – username ‘admin’, password ‘admin’.

It just kept getting more and more pratfally: There were the woeful PINs that put frozen credit files at risk, and then too there was Equifax’s not-so-neat party trick of ditching its tried, trusted domain and instead putting its breach info site onto the easy to typosquat and bafflingly convoluted domain … a convoluted domain name which it proceeded to scramble at least 3 times, sending customers to a fake phishing site for weeks.

Beyond the pile of cyber D’oh!, there were insufficient, underprepared operators at the call centres, leaving alarmed customers facing delays and agents who couldn’t answer questions.

There’s no excuse for any of it, Barros said in his editorial. The company is adding agents and getting them trained, and he’s getting a daily update on the situation.

As well, Equifax is going to fix that problematic site of theirs. If it can’t fix it, it’s going to build a new one from scratch, Barros said. It’s also extending the window to sign up for free credit freezes and its TrustedID Premier credit monitoring service, both of which you can sign up for through the end of January.

I’m sure Equifax is sincerely sorry about this mess. But here’s the thing: given its track record, would you trust the company’s new credit lock service? From the NYT’s Ron Lieber:

This is the same company … that could not create a functioning website for people worried about whether thieves had stolen their Social Security numbers. People who have been trying to freeze their files have run into too many problems to name, and many of them do not yet have PINs. I’ve received hundreds of emails complaining about Equifax’s basic dysfunction.

Why does Equifax even need a new service? Why can’t it just give free credit freezes for life?

Lieber sent Equifax 18 questions that we still need answered, including:

Whether Equifax will force people to submit to mandatory arbitration or some other loss of privileges or rights in exchange for free locks for life. Or whether your name will end up on lists for various offers of credit. This is how TransUnion’s similar free service works, one that it’s been pushing hard at people who have come to its website looking for a credit freeze in the wake of the Equifax hack.

Good questions. As Mother Jones has noted, credit freezes or credit locks come with strings. Transunion’s Disclaimers and Warranties suggest that in order to interact with the company at all, you have to absolve them of liability for anything that might happen to your data on their watch.

Transunion, by the way, also has credit locks, and they’re definitely not free. I tried to set one up, it looks like I was heading toward a $19.99/month credit monitoring bleed.

Will the free credit locks cause the other credit bureaus to follow suit? I’m not holding my breath. At any rate, I want my $5 back. I want all my $5 payments back: as a citizen of Massachusetts, that’s how much I had to fork over to Transunion and to Experian to freeze my credit at those bureaus, all on account of Equifax’s pratfall. People in other states have had to shell out even more.

I called Equifax’s “We’re sorry, we’re sorry, we’ve got enough phone operators on hand now, we swear!” number to ask if Equifax had any intention of refunding customers the money we’ve had to fork over because of its breach.

Its trained operators might not have been trained to handle that one yet: the answer was a stammered “I haven’t heard of anything like that…”

No, I’m not surprised. Again, I’m not holding my breath on that one, either.

from Naked Security – Sophos

Apple Shares More Data with US in First Half of 2017

Apple Shares More Data with US in First Half of 2017

Device-based data requests from government agencies dropped in the first half over last year, but Apple fulfilled a higher percentage of those requests, according to its transparency report.

Apple received 4,479 requests during the first half of 2017 for device-based data, such as which of its customers were tied to which devices, and provided the information 80% of the time when US government agencies made the request, according to the company’s transparency report released this week.

While the number of requests fell to 4,822 during the same period last year, the percentage of the fulfilled requests rose from 78%, according to Apple’s 2016 transparency report.

Meanwhile, US account-based requests, which generally involved cases where law enforcement agencies want information about the fraudulent use of Apple accounts, rose to 1,692 requests during the first half of the year – up from 1,363 requests last year, the 2017 and 2016 reports state. However, in both time periods, the percentage of requests fulfilled remained at 84%.

Apple fulfilled a higher percentage of device-based and account-based data requests in the first half of this year, compared with the level it shared on a worldwide basis, according to the 2017 report. On a global basis, 77% of device-based data requests were fulfilled and 80% of account-based data requests.

Read more about Apple’s 2017 first half transparency report here.


Dark Reading’s Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

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Signal app’s address book security could upset governments

Signal, arguably the world’s most respected secure messaging app, plans to use the DRM (Digital Rights Management) secure enclave built into Intel’s Skylake chips as a way of hiding away how people are connected.

It sounds esoteric, but it fixes an important privacy weakness that has dogged end-to-end encrypted messaging: users want to know who else they know that uses the same service. This requires that apps check who else among a person’s contacts uses it by consulting a central “social graph” of how people are connected.

This is a privacy compromise because it means that while the service’s own encryption stops it from reading your messages (or letting intelligence agencies that later ask for access to this data read them either) it can end up knowing a lot about who you know.

Signal tries to counteract this by not maintaining its own centralised social graph but instead using yours: your address book.

To find out if someone you know uses Signal the app turns their number into a truncated SHA256 hash first, and matches it against a central directory of hashes (this is similar to the way that password authentication works.) Anyone intercepting the traffic or hacking the directory will see hashes rather than telephone numbers.

The only way for a hacker with stolen hashes to figure out what telephone numbers they’ve got is to guess. Guess a number, run it through the hashing algorithm and see if it matches one that you’ve stolen. If it doesn’t match anything, guess another number, and another, and another… and so on until you find a match.

There is a problem with this scheme (to quote Signal’s developers Open Whisper Systems) because the “pre-image space” for 10-digit numbers is small, “inverting these hashes is basically a straightforward dictionary attack”, which is another way of saying that it’s feasible for a computer to make guesses quickly and cheaply enough to compromise the security of the hashes.

Signal doesn’t keep any record of the lookups it’s performed and allows you to satisfy yourself that it doesn’t by giving you access to its source code:

…if you trust the Signal service to be running the published server source code, then the Signal service has no durable knowledge of a user’s social graph if it is hacked or subpoenaed.

But who’s to say that it’s the published server source code that’s actually running on Signal’s server rather than some version of it that’s been modified by a hacker or the demands of an intelligence agency?

…someone who hacks the Signal service could potentially modify the code so that it logs user contact discovery requests, or (although unlikely given present law) some government agency could show up and require us to change the service so that it logs contact discovery requests.

Open Whisper Systems’ founder Moxie Marlinspike thinks the Software Guard Extension (SGX) instruction built into Intel chips as a secure enclave for Digital Rights Management (DRM) offers a way out of the problem, and has integrated it into a new Signal open source Beta.

This is similar to ARM’s TrustZone technology that forms the basis of Samsung’s Knox security system, but was designed with DRM-oriented features such as “remote attestation”.

Remote attestation is normally used by content providers to verify that you and I are running the software we are permitted to, software that will respect DRM restrictions, rather than something that can pirate the content it’s playing.

In Signal’s case this arrangement is inverted. The enclave is on its server rather than on your device and remote attestation allows you, the client, to attest that the server is running a squeaky clean copy of Signal’s software.

Furthermore, because the verified copy of Signal’s software is running in an enclave, neither it nor the messages that pass between you and the enclave can be interfered with by other software on the server.

A practical hurdle to this is SGX’s 128MB RAM limit, which sounds like a lot of protected memory for a microprocessor but is nowhere near enough to hold a database that might contain billions of hashes.

Not to mention:

Even with encrypted RAM, the server OS can learn enough from observing memory access patterns … to determine the plaintext values of the contacts the client transmitted!

Open Whisper Systems’ solution is to perform “a full linear scan across the entire data set of all registered users for every client contact submitted,” which is to say access lots of hashes in the database so anyone with control of the OS can’t detect a pattern.

For any sizable user base, this would be incredibly slow if it had to be done for every user, almost every time they connect to the service (messaging apps perform regular checks in case new users appear).

To avoid this turning into a computer science lecture, we’ll sum up Marlinspike’s proposed solution by saying that it is based around disordering the way hashes are stored within the hash table to make it harder to carry out surveillance on them.

Does any of this matter beyond this one app?

Undoubtedly. Signal’s user base is small but where Signal goes, other secure messaging apps have a habit of following, including as mentioned above, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger with their billion or more users. Since adopting Signal’s underlying platform in 2016, both appear to be implementing its innovations over time.

We don’t know whether this will include using server-side SGX enclaves, but if it does it could provoke a response from governments already questioning the use encrypted messaging.

App companies want to preserve user privacy for complex reasons we’ve written about before, including a desire not to turn into large-scale surveillance platforms for global governments in ways that might hurt their popularity.

But the bottom line is clear: losing access to address book metadata will not go down well with the powers that be.

from Naked Security – Sophos

Whole Foods Reports Credit Card Breach

Whole Foods Reports Credit Card Breach

The breach affects customers of certain Whole Foods taprooms and table-service restaurants.

Whole Foods is investigating a payment card breach after learning an unauthorized actor accessed payment card information used at taprooms and table-service restaurants, the company reports.

Shoppers who limit their Whole Foods purchases to groceries are likely not affected; taprooms and restaurants use a different point-of-sale system than primary stores. While most Whole Foods Market stores do not have these venues, the company advises customers to closely monitor their card statements and report unauthorized charges to the issuing bank. transactions have not been affected as its systems don’t connect to those at Whole Foods. Earlier this year, Amazon bought the grocery chain for $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods has contacted law enforcement and is working with a cybersecurity forensics firm in an ongoing investigation.

Access the full notification here.  

Dark Reading’s Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

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Apple Mac Models Vulnerable to Targeted Attacks

Apple Mac Models Vulnerable to Targeted Attacks

Several updated Mac models don’t receive EFI security fixes, putting machines at risk for targeted cyberattacks.

A systemic problem in several popular Apple Mac computer models is leaving machines vulnerable to stealthy and targeted cyberattacks.

Researchers at Duo Security analyzed 73,000 real-world Mac systems from users across industries over three years of OS updates. They found many don’t receive Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) security fixes when upgraded to the latest OS or download security updates, exposing them to threats like Thunderstrike 2 and Vault 7 data detailing attacks on firmware.

Attacks on the EFI layer, which boots and manages functions for hardware systems, are especially threatening because they give attackers a high level of privilege on target systems.

“At that layer, [attacks] can influence anything on the layers above,” he says. “You can really circumvent any security controls that may be in place … it’s ultimate power in terms of raw access to what the computer has to offer.”

“For the longest time, Apple didn’t do a lot to keep [EFI firmware] up-to-date, and it was very manual,” explains R&D engineer Pepijn Bruienne. After Thunderstrike 1 was published in 2015, Apple recognized the danger and simplified its process by deploying EFI fixes with OS upgrades.

The problem is, a significant number of machines do not receive EFI security updates when they upgrade their operating systems, meaning software is secure but firmware is exposed.

What’s the damage?

Researchers found major discrepancies between the versions of EFI running on analyzed systems, and the versions they should have been running.

Although only 4.2% of the Macs analyzed, overall, by Duo have an EFI firmware version different than what they ought to (based on their hardware, OS version, and the associated EFI update), certain models are faring worse than others.  

At least sixteen Mac models running a supported Apple OS have never received any EFI firmware updates. The most vulnerable model is the 21.5″ iMac, released in late 2015. Researchers found 43% of systems they analyzed are running the wrong EFI versions.

Users running a version of macOS/OS X older than the latest major release (High Sierra) likely have EFI firmware that has not received the latest fixes for EFI problems. Forty-seven Mac models capable of running OS versions 10.12, 10.11, and 10.10 did not have an EFI firmware patch for the Thunderstrike 1 vulnerability. Thirty-one models capable of running the same versions didn’t have a patch for remote version Thunderstrike 2. Two recent Apple security updates (2017-001 for El Capitan 10.10 and 10.11) had the wrong firmware.

“While we can see the discrepancies and see what is happening, we can’t necessarily see why it is happening,” says Bruienne. Researchers say there is something interfering with the way bundled EFI updates are installed, which is why some systems are running older EFI versions.

Danger to the enterprise

Firmware sits below the operating system, application code, and hypervisors. Low-level attacks targeting firmware put attackers at an advantage, explains Rich Smith, director of R&D at Duo.

Each EFI vulnerability is unique so details vary, but in general they are exploited through physical local access to a machine and plugging in a specially created device to a port that uses DMA; for example, a Thunderbolt or Firewire connection. These are frequently called “evil maid” attacks with the exception of Thunderstrike 2, which was purely software-based.

“Attacking EFI can be considered a sophisticated attack that would be used by nation-states or industrial espionage threat actors, and not something we expect to be used indiscriminately,” says Smith.

These attacks are difficult to detect and tougher to remediate; even wiping the hard drive would not completely eliminate malware once it’s installed, says Duo R&D director Rich Smith. “From an attacker’s perspective it’s very stealthy,” he notes. “It’s very difficult to remove a compromise on a system.”

While the implications are “quite severe” in terms of compromised EFI, those who should be most aware of this are people working in higher-security environments. Tech companies, governments, and hacktivists, for example, are at risk of being targeted.

Fixing the problem

Smith advises businesses to check they are running the latest version of EFI for their systems;  Duo released a tool today for conducting these checks. If possible, update to the latest version of the OS, 10.12.6, which will give the latest versions of Apple’s EFI firmware and patch against known software security problems.

If you cannot update to 10.12.6 for compatibility reasons or because your hardware cannot run it, you may not be able to run up-to-date EFI firmware. Check Duo’s research for a list of hardware that hasn’t received an EFI update.

Given EFI attacks are mostly used by advanced actors, consider whether your business includes this level of sophisticated adversary in your threat model. If these attacks are something you proactively secure against, think about how a system with compromised EFI could affect your environment, and how you could confirm the integrity of your Macs’ EFI firmware.

“In many situations, answers to those questions would be ‘badly’ and ‘we probably wouldn’t be able to,'” says Smith. In these cases, he suggests replacing Macs that cannot update their EFI firmware, or moving them into roles where they are not exposed. These would involve physically secure environments with controlled network access.

Duo informed Apple of their data in June and Smith says interactions with the company have been “very positive.” Apple has taken steps forward with the release of macOS 10.13 (High Sierra).

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Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Here’s What to Ask the Former Equifax CEO

Richard Smith — who resigned as chief executive of big-three credit bureau Equifax this week in the wake of a data breach that exposed 143 million Social Security numbers — is slated to testify in front of no fewer than four committees on Capitol Hill next week. If I were a lawmaker, here are some of the questions I’d ask when Mr. Smith goes to Washington.


Before we delve into the questions, a bit of background is probably in order. The new interim CEO of Equifax — Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. — took to The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets this week to publish a mea culpa on all the ways Equifax failed in responding to this breach (the title of the op-ed in The Journal was literally “I’m sorry”).

“We were hacked,” Barros wrote. “That’s the simple fact. But we compounded the problem with insufficient support for consumers. Our website did not function as it should have, and our call center couldn’t manage the volume of calls we received. Answers to key consumer questions were too often delayed, incomplete or both.”

Barros stated that Equifax was working to roll out a new system by Jan. 31, 2018 that would let consumers “easily lock and unlock access to their Equifax credit files.”

“You will be able to do this at will,” he continued. “It will be reliable, safe, and simple. Most significantly, the service will be offered free, for life.”

I have argued for years that all of the data points needed for identity thieves to open new lines of credit in your name and otherwise ruin your credit score are available for sale in the cybercrime underground. To be certain, the Equifax breach holds the prospect that ID thieves could update all that stolen data with newer records. I’ve argued that the only sane response to this sorry state of affairs is for consumers to freeze their files at the bureaus, which blocks potential creditors — and ID thieves — from trashing your credit file and credit score.

Equifax is not the only bureau promoting one of these lock services. Since Equifax announced its breach on Sept. 7, big-three credit bureaus Trans Union and Experian have worked feverishly to steer consumers seeking freezes toward these locks instead, arguing that they are easier to use and allow consumers to lock and unlock their credit files with little more than the press of a button on a mobile phone app. Oh, and the locks are free, whereas the bureaus can (and do) charge consumers for placing and/or thawing a freeze (the laws freeze fee laws differ from state to state).


My first group of questions would center around security freezes or credit freezes, and the difference between those and these credit lock services being pushed hard by the bureaus.

Currently, even consumer watchdog groups say they are uncertain about the difference between a freeze and a lock. See this press release from Thursday by U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, for one such example.

Also, I’m curious to know what percentage of Americans had a freeze prior to the breach, and how many froze their credit files (or attempted to do so) after Equifax announced the breach. The answers to these questions may help explain why the bureaus are now massively pushing their new credit lock offerings (i.e., perhaps they’re worried about the revenue hit they’ll take should a significant percentage of Americans decide to freeze their credit files).

I suspect the pre-breach number is less than one percent. I base this guess loosely on some data I received from the head of security at Dropbox, who told KrebsOnSecurity last year that less than one percent of its user base of 500 million registered users had chosen to turn on 2-factor authentication for their accounts. This extra security step can block thieves from accessing your account even if they steal your password, but many consumers simply don’t take advantage of such offerings because either they don’t know about them or they find them inconvenient.

Bear in mind that while most two-factor offerings are free, most freezes involve fees, so I’d expect the number of pre-breach freezers to be a fraction of one percent. However, if only one half of one percent of Americans chose to freeze their credit files before Equifax announced its breach — and if the total number of Americans requesting a freeze post-breach rose to, say, one percent — that would still be a huge jump (and potentially a painful financial hit to Equifax and the other bureaus).


So without further ado, here are some questions I’d ask on the topic of credit locks and freezes:

-Approximately how many credit files on Americans does Equifax currently maintain?

-Prior to the Equifax breach, approximately how many Americans had chosen to freeze their credit files at Equifax?

-Approximately how many total Americans today have requested a freeze from Equifax? This should include the company’s best estimate on the number of people who have requested a freeze but — because of the many failings of Equifax’s public response cited by Barros — were unable to do so via phone or the Internet.

-Approximately how much does Equifax charge each time the company sells a credit check (i.e., a bank or other potential creditor performs a “pull” on a consumer credit file)?

-On average, how many times per year does Equifax sell access to consumer’s credit file to a potential creditor?

-Mr. Barros said Equifax will extend its offer of free credit freezes until the end of January 2018. Why not make them free indefinitely, just as the company says it plans to do with its credit lock service?

-In what way does a consumer placing a freeze on their credit file limit Equifax’s ability to do business?

-In what way does a consumer placing a lock on their credit file limit Equifax’s ability to do business?

-If a lock accomplishes the same as a freeze, why create more terminology that only confuses consumers?

-By agreeing to use Equifax’s lock service, will consumers also be opting in to any additional marketing arrangements, either via Equifax or any of its partners?


Equifax could hardly have bungled their breach response more if they tried. It is said that one should never attribute to malice what can more easily be explained by incompetence, but Equifax surely should have known that how they handled their public response would be paramount to their ability to quickly put this incident behind them and get back to business as usual.


Equifax has come under heavy criticism for waiting too long to disclose this breach. It has said that the company became aware of the intrusion on July 29, and yet it did not publicly disclose the breach until Sept. 7.However, when Equifax did disclose, it seemed like everything about the response was rushed and ill-conceived.

One theory that I simply cannot get out of my head is that perhaps Equifax rushed preparations for is breach disclosure and response because it was given a deadline by extortionists who were threatening to disclose the breach on their own if the company did not comply with some kind of demand.

-I’d ask a question of mine that Equifax refused to answer shortly after the breach: Whether the company was the target of extortionists over this data breach *before* the breach was officially announced on Sept. 7.

-Equifax said the attackers abused a vulnerability in Apache Struts to break in to the company’s Web applications. That Struts flaw was patched by the Apache Foundation on March 8, 2017, but Equifax waited until after July 30, 2017 — after it learned of the breach — to patch the vulnerability. Why did Equifax decide to wait four and a half months to apply this critical update?

-How did Equifax become aware of this breach? Was it from an external source, such as law enforcement?

-Assuming Equifax learned about this breach from law enforcement agencies, what did those agencies say regarding how they learned about the breach?


Multiple news organizations have reported that companies which track crimes related to identity theft — such as account takeovers, new account fraud, and e-commerce fraud — saw huge upticks in all of these areas corresponding to two periods that are central to Equifax’s breach timeline; the first in mid-May, when Equifax said the intruders began abusing their access to the company, and the second late July/early August, when Equifax said it learned about the breach.

This chart shows spikes in various forms of identity abuse — including account takeovers and new account fraud — as tracked by ThreatMetrix, a San Jose, Calif. firm that helps businesses prevent fraud.

-Has Equifax performed any analysis on consumer credit reports to determine if there has been any pattern of consumer harm as a result of this breach?

-Assuming the answer to the previous question is yes, did the company see any spikes in applications for new lines of consumer credit corresponding to these two time periods in 2017?

Many fraud experts report that a fast-growing area of identity theft involves so-called “synthetic ID theft,” in which fraudsters take data points from multiple established consumer identities and merge them together to form a new identity. This type of fraud often takes years to result in negative consequences for consumers, and very often the debt collection agencies will go after whoever legitimately owns the Social Security number used by that identity, regardless of who owns the other data points.

-Is Equifax aware of a noticeable increase in synthetic identity theft in recent months or years?

-What steps, if any, does Equifax take to ensure that multiple credit files are not using the same Social Security number?

-Prior to its breach disclosure, Equifax spent more than a half million dollars in the first half of 2017 lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would limit the legal liability of credit bureaus in connection with data security lapses. Do you still believe such legislation is necessary? Why or why not?

What questions did I leave out, Dear Readers? Or is there a way to make a question above more succinct? Sound off in the comments below, and I may just add yours to the list!

In the meantime, here are the committees at which Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith will be testifying next week on Capitol Hill. Some of these committees will no doubt be live-streaming the hearings. Check back at the links below on the morning-of for more information on that. Also, C-SPAN almost certainly will be streaming some of these as well:

-Tuesday, Oct. 3, 10:00 a.m., House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rayburn House Office Bldg. Room 2123.

-Wednesday, Oct. 5, 10:00 a.m., Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs. Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Room 538.

-Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2:30 p.m., Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Room 226.

-Thursday, Oct. 6, 9:15 a.m., House Financial Services Committee. Rayburn House Office Bldg., Room 2128.

from Krebs on Security