Hackers break into Equifax’s computer systems, gain access to personal information of nearly half of the U.S. population

As per U.S. Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it would not be an “exaggeration to suggest that a breach such as this represents a real threat to the economic security of Americans.”

In what is reported to be one of the largest breaches of data in the United States, hackers have been able to break into Equifax Inc’s computer system and were able to gain access to their personal credit scores.

The incident which occurred between mid-May and July highlights the ease with which criminals are being able to gain access to personal information stored by large companies. 143 million U.S. consumers were affected by this breach which exposed the names, social security numbers, and driving licenses of nearly half of the U.S. population.

In addition to these, credit cards numbers of nearly 209,000 U.S. consumers along with certain dispute documents which had personal identifying information of around 182,000 U.S. consumers were also accessed, said Equifax.

With the news reaching the market, Equifax’s shares fell by 19% in after-market trading as investors braced to possible consequences of the exposure of sensitive data.

In its statement, Atlanta-based Equifax stated it discovered the breach on July 29. Hackers had gained access to their database using known vulnerabilities on its U.S. site.

Equifax stated, it’s working with law enforcement agencies agencies and has hired a cyber-security firm to investigate the breach. Its investigation into the incident is “substantially complete,” and expects a closure on the matter in the coming weeks.

The company declined to comment beyond its statement.

As per a spokeswoman from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it is tracking the situation.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement that it would not be an “exaggeration to suggest that a breach such as this represents a real threat to the economic security of Americans.”

“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Richard Smith, Equifax’s CEO in a statement.

He went on to add that the company is conducting “a thorough review of our overall security operations.”

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