Equifax Settlement after Massive Data Breach

An Equifax settlement has finally been reached – nearly two years after their massive data breach. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The settlement includes a Consumer Restitution Fund totaling up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach and another $175 million going to all 50 U.S. states and territories.

Padlock with Identity Theft Theme
Nearly 148 Million Records Exposed!

TOTAL INEPTNESS

It was in September of 2017 that Equifax, one of the largest consumer reporting agencies in the world, suffered a data breach that affected roughly 148 million consumers – nearly half the U.S. population.

Equifax’s failure to maintain and update their security system is what caused this preventable breach. Despite knowing about a critical vulnerability in its software, Equifax failed to fully patch its systems. The breach went unnoticed for 76 days.

This epic breach enabled hackers to penetrate Equifax’s systems and exposed the private data of 56% of American adults. Breached information included Social Security numbers, names, addresses, birthdates, credit card numbers and some driver’s license numbers too.  It was, and still is, the largest and most damaging breach of highly sensitive consumer data.

RESTITUTION FUND – JUST A MERE $2.87 – PER VICTIM!
Equifax Settlement
Barely A Slap On The Wrist!

The Equifax Settlement includes a Consumer Restitution Fund totaling up to $425 million that will go to consumers who can demonstrate that they were financially harmed by the breach.  $300 million is dedicated to addressing consumer redress. However, if the $300 million is exhausted, the fund can increase by up to an additional $125 million. The company must also offer up to 10 years of credit monitoring services to those affected by the breach. If you don’t want the credit monitoring service, you may be able to opt for a $125 cash payment, unless they run out of funds. You can’t get both!

Furthermore, Equifax has agreed to take several additional steps to assist consumers who are either facing ID Theft issues, or who have already had their identities stolen. It includes making it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit and making it easier for consumers to dispute inaccurate information contained in their credit reports.

Additionally, the Equifax settlement requires the company to maintain sufficient staff dedicated to assisting consumers who may be victims of identity theft. For at least seven years, Equifax will provide free assistance to victims via their Identity Restoration Services. In other words, if you discover there was misuse of your personal information, call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 and you will be given instructions for how to access Equifax’s free Identity Restoration Services.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?

Equifax is offering FREE Credit Reports for ALL U.S. Consumers. Starting in January 2020, all U.S. consumers can get 6 free credit reports per year for 7 years from the Equifax website. That is in addition to the mandatory free credit report everyone is entitled to each year from each of the three credit bureaus that you get from going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com

To find out if you were one of the over 147 million victims of Equifax’s data breach and an eligible class member, call 1-833-759-2982 or you can click here

*NOTE: If you wish to file a claim, you must file your claim by January 22, 2020.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for info on How to File a Claim

Read a previous article I wrote about the Equifax Breach to learn how it all came about. And Here for Part Two of that article.

FBI Warns of Router Vulnerabilities

Router Vulnerabilities

The FBI is sounding the alarm and giving an official warning about router vulnerabilities. Apparently, foreign hackers are using a type of malware called “VPN-Filter” to target routers around the world. These router security vulnerabilities were present in many of the most popular router brands.

Your router is often one of the most overlooked of all your computer devices. Realize that hackers can and often do break in to a router, just as easily as any other device on your computer.

Router Vulnerabilitles
Check for updates every 90 days

 

SO WHAT IS A ROUTER ANYWAY?

A router is defined as a hardware networking device that routes data from one computer network connection to another, on the internet. It performs traffic directing functions that allow authorized machines to connect to other computer systems. They are in essence electronic devices that join multiple computer networks together.

If your router becomes compromised, the security of all the devices that utilize that router, are in jeopardy. Once infected, Malware causes the router to block all network communications, thus rendering your router inoperable.

ADVICE FROM THE F.B.I.

According to the FBI, this Malware is difficult to detect and defend against. Therefore, the FBI is recommending that owners of home offices and small office routers should immediately reboot their routers. By doing so, it can disrupt this newly discovered Malware. The FBI is also recommending that, if you have not already done so, immediately change the “default” password and choose a new strong and long password.

Lastly, the FBI is also advising everyone to upgrade to the latest version of their router’s firmware.  Unfortunately, the companies that produce routers don’t automatically notify you when an update is available. So, it is up to you to look for them and download them yourself.

In order to do so, you need to use your internet browser to log into your router, using your router’s IP address. By default, most router manufacturers use 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 as the IP address.

Alternatively, using Windows 10 you can find your IP address by going to your Settings and choose the Network and Internet icon. Next choose Ethernet and click on your network. Then scroll down to Properties to find it.

It is recommended that you check for updates every 90 days. Below are the links to more information for updating the most popular brands of routers.

Apple:   https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201519

Asus:  https://www.asus.com/microsite/2014/networks/routerfirmware_update/

D-Link:  http://support.dlink.com/

Linksys:  https://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=135561

Netgear https://kb.netgear.com/23442/How-do-I-update-my-NETGEAR-router-firmware-using-the-Check-button-in-the-router-s-web-interface

SCAN YOUR ROUTER FOR ANY BREAK-INS

Using the link below will enable you to check your router for any break-ins.  It is a safe and free service that is specially designed to scan your router to make sure there are no hackers lurking in your router.

Here is the link:

https://www.f-secure.com/en_US/web/home_us/router-checker

Just click the “Check Your Router” icon and you’ll receive an instantaneous report.