If there is only one thing we can learn in the wake of the Equifax breach, it is that companies need to move towards smarter cybersecurity practices in order to confront and prevent cyberattacks sooner. While investigations are ongoing, the enormous loss of data at Equifax appears to have been the result of an unpatched vulnerability, which allowed hackers to roam freely inside Equifax’s computer network for more than four months.
Many believe the government needs to get tougher on financial institutions that put consumer data at risk. “While financial technology covers many different activities, all those activities rely on the responsible use and careful protection of data,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “In the case of Equifax, that didn’t happen. Americans are now forced to worry whether the information that the hackers stole will have lasting impacts, from outright theft to damaged credit. I want to make sure that companies that use our private data are held accountable for its protection.”
“I think this breach really ought to be a watershed, and we ought to really reconceive how we regulate this area. I think existing approaches are failing,” said Frank Pasquale, professor of law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. “If you have a doctor, for example, in the States repeatedly committing malpractice, they lose their license. If you have a lawyer that shirks duties to clients, etc., they will lose their license. I think we really have to think seriously about licensing certain entities, as we do with the corporate level, with respect for the consumer finance information, because we have seen so many instances of failure here. And I think repeated instances of failure should lead to a revocation of such a license.”
There is no doubt more needs to be done with regards to cybersecurity within the financial services industry. Every year, the Department of Homeland Security designates October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness around the topic. The goal is to make everyone, from private citizens to corporate citizens, more aware of cybersecurity threats and better prepared to protect themselves and their companies. That’s why this month we’ll feature best practices and tips for to help consumers and corporations understand the threats and how to protect themselves, including what to do if they become a victim of cyber-crime.
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