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Technology and society

Magda Skrzypek
Media development worker

Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.

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piqer: Magda Skrzypek
Thursday, 28 March 2019

Cyberhack Hall Of Shame: The Equifax Data Breach

Breach is like a walk through a cyber hack hall of shame. Hosted by technology journalist Bob Sullivan and producer Alia Tavakolian, the podcast investigates history's biggest data breaches. After Season 1 focused on the Yahoo data breach, the largest known hack in history that involved personal data on 500 million users, Season 2 takes an in-depth look at the Equifax breach, considered among the worst breaches of all time.

If you somehow missed it, here's a wrap-up: in 2017, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus in the United States announced that sensitive information on 143 million consumers – roughly 44 percent of the U.S. population – had been stolen. It was a big win for the hackers and included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases driver's license numbers and credit card numbers. The stolen data could be used for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft, at any point in the years to come.

To get the whole picture of this jaw-dropping "hack of all hacks", you'd better start from the beginning and listen to the whole season (four out of six episodes have been released at the time of writing this). But if for some reason you need to pick just one episode, here's my recommendation: go for the "postmortem" episode that looks at the obvious errors and massive incompetence that allowed the hack to happen.

"Episode 3 of Breach Season 2 examines the methods that relatively unsophisticated hackers used to easily breach Equifax security, gain remote control access to a customer support portal, steal the personal information of millions of Americans, and go completely undetected for 76 days. You’ll learn how communication issues, improper technology management, IT complexity, and a broken reporting structure led to a missed security update. Plus, you’ll get firsthand accounts about why a critical patch was never applied to the Apache framework that Equifax’s support portal ran on – leaving the door open for hackers."

Cyberhack Hall Of Shame: The Equifax Data Breach
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