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Equifax CEO falls on his sword weeks after credit biz admits mega-breach

Well, what else could he do?

Equifax's chairman and chief exec today resigned, weeks after the consumer credit reporting agency admitted a massive security breach.

Richard Smith, who "retires" with immediate effect, has joined a growing list of senior people that exited Equifax in the wake of the mega leak that affected in excess of 100 million consumers.

Smith will not collect his annual bonus, according to his agreement with Equifax. He will be on hand for the next 90 days to provide assistance to the organisation but will not be compensated for doing so.

Seven-year company veteran Paulino do Rego Barros Jr, who most recently served as president for Asia Pacific, was appointed as caretaker CEO while the company searches for a permanent successor.

"The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right," Smith said in a canned statement. "At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward."

Smith is due to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on October 3 to answer questions about the hack. It's not immediately clear whether or not do Rego Barros will take his place.

Smith is not the first senior Equifax exec to depart the firm since the breach, which actually took place months ago, was made public. The CIO and CSO are both "retiring", the company said roughly a fortnight ago.

On September 7, Equifax admitted a massive breach had exposed the private data of over 143 million Americans. The incident, which started in mid-May but was only detected in late July, was blamed on a missed Apache Struts update.

An estimated 400,000 Brits and 100,000 Canadians were also caught up in the mess, Equifax eventually confirmed.

Equifax's incident response when it went public about the breach was heavily criticised on various grounds: a customer response site was a hastily constructed WordPress bodge job, and victims were initially asked to agree to take any dispute to arbitration and forfeit the right to take part in any class-action lawsuit. Predictably various class-action lawsuits have begun.

Meanwhile, Equifax shares have taken a huge hit from the whole sorry affair and were trading at $104 at the time of writing, compared to $140 a month ago.

Three top Equifax executives, including its chief financial officer, sold a combined $1.8m worth of stock after the breach was detected but before it was made public. Equifax said that the executives had "no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares". ®

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