Costello grills Equifax boss over se­cu­rity woes

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS -

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, grilled for­mer Equifax CEO Richard Smith as he tes­ti­fied Tues­day be­fore the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill in Washington.

As Smith tes­ti­fied, Costello ques­tioned him about the com­pany’s re­sponse re­gard­ing a mas­sive se­cu­rity breech in the credit mon­i­tor­ing com­pany’s soft­ware that oc­curred in Septem­ber and may have ex­posed per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of as many as 145 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als.

Be­low is the full tran­script of Rep. Costello’s ques­tion­ing:

Rep. Ryan Costello: I’ve heard from hun­dreds of con­stituents in my con­gres­sional dis­trict. There are ap­prox­i­mately five and a halfmil­lion in Penn­syl­va­nia. I’ve re­viewed each and ev­ery one of the con­stituent sto­ries that I’ve re­ceived and amongst my grow­ing con­cerns: your base­line se­cu­rity prac­tices lead­ing up to the breach, the com­pany’s aware­ness of the breach de­vel­op­ments and rel­e­vant tim­ing, how con­sumers can get as­sis­tance in se­cur­ing their ac­counts, how re­li­able the re­cov­ery ef­forts are in the wake of the breach, and the path for­ward long-termfor con­sumers’ per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing sure they are safe, de­spite the beach. And it’s this last one that is so par­tic­u­larly an­ger­ing be­cause it is go­ing to po­ten­tially be so de­struc­tive to hun­dreds of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans – what might hap­pen to them in the years to come. And as the head of the com­pany, and through­out the com­pany, the cul­ture of the com­pany has to know how pre­dictable the dam­age can po­ten­tially be. So, I ask you, is it not pre­dictable how bad it might get for the in­di­vid­u­als who have been com­pro­mised? In terms of how much dam­age could be wrought upon them in­di­vid­u­ally in the years to come?

Mr. Richard Smith, for- mer Equifax CEO: Con­gress­man, let me start by say­ing that like you, I’ve talked to con­stituents, con­sumers across this coun­try who’ve been im­pacted. I per­son­ally read let­ters from con­sumers com­plain­ing, voic­ing their anger and frus­tra­tions, so I know what you are see­ing back home in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Rep. Costello: But see I think the anger is go­ing to be­mul­ti­plied thou­sands of times when some­thing ac­tu­ally hap­pens. And so, when you talk about how pre­dictable some of this is, the roll­out of the call cen­ters, and the sec­ond roll­out, and the third roll­out, it has to be pre­dictable how mas­sive this is and what­would need to be put in place from a pro­to­col per­spec­tive in or­der to ad­dress what’s com­ing. And the slow roll­out and how poor it was done, to me is just in­ex­cus­able. I mean you have to have depart­ments ded­i­cated to deal­ing with this po­ten­tial and it doesn’t ap­pear to me as though that was planned – or if it was planned, it was planned ex­tremely poorly.

Mr. Richard Smith: I un­der­stand your point, but it re­quires a lit­tle more color. We went from500 call cen­ter agents to a need of al­most 3,000 prop­erly han­dled call cen­ter agents to han­dle con­sumer calls took time. We did the best we could in a short pe­riod of time. To Ramp those up I men­tioned in my open­ing com­ments, two of our larger call cen­ters in the first week­end –

Rep. Costello: I un­der­stand – the hur­ri­cane.

Mr. Richard Smith: Taken out by Hur­ri­cane Irma. We were not pre­pared for that kind of call vol­ume.

Rep. Costello: How couldn’t you be? How couldn’t you be?

Mr. Richard Smith: It’s not our tra­di­tional busi­ness model. We – our tra­di­tional busi­ness model deals with com­pa­nies – not four hun­dred mil­lion con­sumers.

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