Five Data-Security Ideas Brought Up During the Equifax Hearing

WASHINGTON DC- MAY 24 Sen. Brian Schatz speaks while flanked by Sen. Richard Durbin , and Sen. Angus King, during a news conference to discuss preexisting conditions clauses In U.S President Donald Trump's Health Care Plan

The former CEO of credit reporting company Equifax faced a Congressional hearing Tuesday, just weeks after the company admitted the personal information of millions of Americans had been exposed in a hack of their systems.

While speaking to the committee (video below), former CEO Richard Smith outlined the company's normal procedure for new patches: Have a technician install it and then scan the system for any remaining vulnerabilities.

The hearing comes a day after Equifax said that the data of an additional 2.5 million consumers may have been compromised by the cyber breach, bringing the total number of consumers who may have been affected to a staggering 145.5 million.

In March, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alerted Equifax to an online gap in security but the company did nothing, said Smith.

Smith explained to a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that hackers were able to get into Equifax's data because of a "human error".

Equifax keeps a trove of consumer data for banks and other creditors who want to know whether a customer is likely to default.

Smith said he was disappointed in the rollout of call centers and a website created to help the people affected by the breach. Smith said the extent of the breach was not known when they made the sales. A more comprehensive service, a credit freeze, blocks access to credit files unless a consumer provides a personal identification number to the agency.

The stolen data included Social Security numbers, names, birth dates and addresses. Security experts have said that the ripple effects will be felt for years to come and that the ultimate costs are hard to discern.

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Smith stepped down last week in the wake of the breach, which has sparked numerous federal and state investigations as well as outrage from lawmakers.

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, the chairman of the subcommittee examining the breach, said there are already laws on the books that require companies to secure sensitive consumer data.

A week later, the company's chief security officer and the chief information officer announced their sudden retirements.

Smith will also testify in three other hearings this week.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officials have said the agency should embed more regulators at the three largest USA credit-rating firms to monitor cybersecurity - a plan endorsed Tuesday by Representative Jan Schakowsky.

Smith apologized in a prepared statement posted on the committee's website. Lawmakers from both parties said it's time to enact tougher rules for data security.

"This reemphasizes the need for data breach legislation, so there is a standard - so you don't have a company decide when they want to disclose when a breach has occurred", Warner said.

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