September 7, 2017 – the day we all found out about the Equifax data breach, making personal privacy and identity security daily headline news. More than 145 million Social Security numbers were exposed and, in total, nearly 148 million consumers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was compromised. The hacked Equifax data gave fraudsters everything they need to commit true or synthetic identity theft, as well as a myriad of other criminal activities.
Essentially, in the cyberworld, this breach was a Category 5 hurricane.
As with any widespread data breach, those whose personal information was exposed could be at risk for years as well, given Social Security numbers don’t change and addresses only do when someone uproots.
Although the impact upon consumers is clear, let’s take a look at how, one year later, businesses continue to feel the impact of Equifax’s breach.
The Impact on Operational Productivity
About half of the adult population in the U.S. found themselves negatively impacted by the Equifax breach. These are the people who make your business run, from the CEO to your most junior-level employees. If they haven’t been targeted by scammers or identity thieves yet, it’s only a matter of time – and it can have a detrimental impact on your daily operations.
When the personal information of your employees is compromised, it can take them on average 6 months and 100 to 200 hours worth of work to recover from identity theft. That means time out of the office which doesn’t factor in the negative consequences of financial and emotional stress that will hinder their work.
To combat this impact, many businesses have recognized the importance of offering identity theft protection as an employee benefit. In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 63 percent of businesses will do so by 2021.
Blurred Lines Between Business & Personal Credit
Beyond its consumer focus, Equifax is one of the three main credit reporting agencies managing business credit. Just like personal credit reports are reviewed when applying for mortgages, loans, or credit cards, businesses also have a credit score. A strong credit profile shows vendors and potential investors that the company pays their bills – an indication of fiscal strength and responsibility. Often, for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), their lines of credit are tied to that of the owner(s) of the company.
This is a critical consideration in the wake of the Equifax data breach, and it can affect more than just the owners of the business. The ability to pay employees, cover overhead expenses, or fill inventory, is closely tied to the credit of many small business proprietors, including start-ups. Cybercriminals and identity criminals can cause a business to seize operations if they destroy the credit score of a SMB.
If you or someone you know runs a small business, tell them to ask about EZShield’s “Best in Class” business ID protection solutions and restoration products.
Corporate Investment in Cybersecurity
The Equifax breach, along with other high-profile data breaches, has made cybersecurity top-of-mind for corporations. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global cybersecurity spending will exceed $1 trillion by 2021.
This increase in investment hasn’t correlated with fewer cyberattacks. Juniper Research predicts that 146 billion records will be breached over the next 5 years, with more than 33 billion being exposed by breaches in 2023 alone. The fact is, as technologies advance, cybercriminals are taking advantage of increased vulnerabilities.
Data Breach Resources for Your Business
With IdentityForce uniting with EZShield, we now represent the strongest, most-reputable solutions in digital identity theft protection and cybersecurity. Take a look at the educational resources below, and feel free to share with your colleagues:
- RapidResponse℠ Exclusive Breach Guarantee
- Password Strength Test
- Data Breach News Summary (Table)
- Lessons Learned from Data Breaches in 2017 (Blog)
- 2018 Data Breaches – The Worst So Far (Blog)
- 8 Tips for 2018 Data Breach Victims (Infographic)
- 7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity (Printable PDF)
- Global Aerospace Leader Mitigates Breach (Case Study)
- The Fallout from the Equifax Data Breach (Webinar Replay)
- Risky Business: Data Breach Impact on Your Organization & Employees (Whitepaper)