Costello grills Equifax boss over security woes
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.