New Equifax CEO Focused on Cybersecurity

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 28, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It wasn't supposed to be like this, but the Equifax data debacle probably helped many corporate attorneys to reprioritize.

The first order of business, after the colossal failure was announced, was for the company to get new leadership. Mark Feidler, a board member, has taken over for outgoing CEO Richard Smith.

The next order of business, assuming the general counsel still has a job, should be to rebuild trust. That may be more important than rebuilding cybersecurity.

"Totally" Focused on Cybersecurity

Other Equifax executives have resigned, but the company has focused on making cybersecurity changes.

"The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident," Feidler said in the statement. "We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimize the risk that something like this happens again."

It's not the first time, of course, that hackers have crippled major companies. Yahoo, for example, lost about $350 million on its sale to Verizon after 1.5 billion email accounts were compromised.

Yahoo's general counsel took the fall for that epic fail, by the way.

Focus on Company Credibility?

The Equifax breach goes deeper. It was bad enough that hackers compromised sensitive data on 143 million Americans, a more troubling problem stems from the company's delay in letting the public know about it.

The stock tumbled almost 26 percent after the disclosure, but the public's loss of confidence in the company was immeasurably worse. Senior executives sold nearly $1.8 million in shares after discovery of the breach but before it became public.

The company said the executives had not been informed of the breach before selling their shares. Bart Frikedman, senior counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, said the company needed to confront the issue.

"Yes, they should have a careful investigation and have an independent law firm interview the executives and review their emails and determine what they knew and when, but the end result is likely clear," he told Bloomberg.

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