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Hacked Off

I’ve used this space before to talk about ransomware and cybersecurity, facts of life for all of us, no matter how much we’d like to just focus on our businesses. We’re responsible for our employees’ personal data and our clients’ data, and the business owner who fails to adequately protect that information is open to a world of hurt. So we tack on the added expense of cyber liability insurance just in case.

Which is why the Equifax hacking scandal really rubs me the wrong way. Here’s a company that collects our most vital personal information without our permission, uses it as leverage to determine how much credit will cost us, and then allows it to be hacked, exposing 143 million Americans to … well, we don’t know that yet. But it won’t be good.

So what are they doing to accept responsibility? Offering their credit monitoring service for free … for a year. What happens if the bad guys sit on your private data for 366 days and then pretend to be you? Who knows? And in the ultimate act of chutzpah, Equifax announced they would be charging people who wished to freeze their credit (until the backlash from that decision forced them to reverse it). Talk about tone deaf.

On the Equifax website dedicated to resolving this mess, there’s an announcement that the Chairman and CEO has “retired,” thus following in the steps of the heads of IT and Security. Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel a lot better. Especially in the case of the CEO, who steps out a few days before was to testify to Congress and – wait for it – will collect an $18.5 million retirement bonus if he’s not found directly responsible for the breach.

Does any of that sound like a company stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility?

What can we do besides check to see if we’ve been hacked and monitor our credit activity? Not much. The credit reporting services have data on pretty much anyone who doesn’t live in the woods somewhere. There’s just no getting around it, which is why we all feel a little bit powerless … and a whole lot frustrated.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at