Equifax used ‘admin’ as username and password internally

A class-action
lawsuit targeting Equifax has revealed a series of appalling internal security
practices that led to the data breach incurred by the credit reporting agency
in 2017.

The lawsuit is not your typical class action involving Equifax customers. Rather, it’s a class action that represents 373 disgruntled shareholders whose individual lawsuits have been consolidated into one. The suit isn’t a new development either. However, the suit papers went viral Friday after Buzzfeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko noticed a series of major security lapses mentioned by the plaintiffs, including accusations that Equifax:

  • failed to implement an adequate patch
    management process, while also failing to remediate known deficiencies in its
    cybersecurity infrastructure
  • relied upon a single individual to
    manually implement its patching process across its entire network
  • failed to encrypt sensitive data,
    storing it in plaintext and making it easy for unauthorized users to read and
  • left unencrypted sensitive data accessible
    through a public-facing, widely used website, enabling any attacker who
    compromised the website’s server to immediately access this personal data in
  • failed to encrypt highly vulnerable
    mobile applications, therefore transmitting unencrypted data over the internet
  • left the decryption keys on the same
    public-facing servers when it did encrypt data

And the list
goes on. However, perhaps Equifax’s biggest oversight was in the authentication
department. Specifically, it failed to implement multi-factor authentication
and used “admin” as both username and password to authorize access to a portal
used to manage credit disputes. From the suit papers:

“This portal
contained a vast trove of personal information. According to cybersecurity
experts, these shortcomings demonstrated ‘poor security policy and a lack of
due diligence.’ Equifax’s authentication practices fell short of the data
security standards, which recommend the use of multi-factor authentication.”

The suit
also alleges Equifax relied on four-digit pins derived from Social Security
numbers and birthdays to generate authentication passwords. These passwords
were not only weak, but had already been compromised in previous breaches,
plaintiffs say.

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