Equifax Breach: Preventing Data Breaches with Privileged Access Management


The basics of the breach in the US, UK, and Canada are well known:

Hackers had access to 143 million records between the months of May and August. Equifax discovered the breach on July 29th, but did not disclose it to the public until September 7th.

The records contained tons of confidential information including:

  • Full names
  • Social security numbers
  • Birthdays
  • Current and past addresses
  • Driver license numbers
  • Credit card numbers

All that is… bad. Very bad. But here’s the shocking part.

Equifax Argentina: Basic Security Practices Ignored

As it turns out, Equifax security issues go way beyond just the US, UK, and Canada.

Krebs on Security reports that the Argentinian branch of Equifax, and potentially other Latin American countries’ branches, may have also had their records compromised.

The online web portal used by employees to manage credit report disputes between Equifax and customers was protected by the laughable credentials of:

Username: admin

Password: admin

With access to this portal, hackers could view the names, IDs, passwords, and emails of over 100 employees. They could also add, modify, or delete any of these privileged accounts. Did they? Who knows! There doesn’t seem to have been any systems in place to prevent or monitor any of this crucial privileged access.

This is shocking. 

The Equifax breach in Argentina shows complete disregard for basic security practices.

Looking through the records further, it appears that employees were given default passwords that were never changed. All of the passwords were the same as employee usernames, a simple combination of their first initial and last name. These credentials gave hackers access to over 14,000 records of past disputes including names, emails, credit reports, and DNIs (Argentinian equivalent of SSN). Getting credit is extremely difficult in Argentina, given they are still primarily a cash-based country, therefore this breach could have major impacts on individuals who struggled to get a line of credit in the first place.

Is this representative of how other Equifax branches and departments handled security?

It All Could Have Been Prevented

If Equifax had utilized even the most basic privileged access management solution, there would have been multiple blockades for the hackers, and numerous alarms sent to security teams at the onset of the breach.

Privileged access management solutions traditionally consist of a password manageraccess manager, and session manager. The password and access managers could have enforced basic password best practices and prevented anyone from having direct access to sensitive databases. Any potential modification to employee accounts or unusual access to applications or data would have been recorded by session management tools.

This powerful suite of tools helps organizations:

  • Centralize security operations
  • Monitor access
  • Record sessions for later review
  • Meet compliance regulations
  • Keep passwords encrypted in a vault
  • Enforce strict password policies
  • Alert security teams of potential breaches-in-progress
  • Protect privileged accounts from unauthorized use
  • Monitor all activity in real-time

Privileged access management could have prevented the Equifax data breach by denying hackers access to critical systems and notifying security teams of potential issues.

Don’t be Those Guys

Utilizing a privileged access management solution is the best way to improve security operations by keeping the hackers out and your critical data secure. It allows you to ensure security throughout your organization and control who has access to various systems and data. It helps organizations maintain compliance by providing unalterable audit trails of all activities that occur within your network. Privileged access management is the solution all organizations need to prevent a data breach catastrophe – no matter the cause.

Interested in learning more about how WALLIX’s privileged access management solution – WALLIX Bastion – can help your organization prevent devastating data breaches? Contact us.