Equifax chairman and chief executive Richard Smith has stepped down from his leadership role at the credit rating agency following the data breach that affected 143 million US consumers and 400,000 in the UK earlier this month.
Equifax has released a statement in which it said that Smith will vacate the company after working there for more than ten years and that its Asia-Pacific president, Paulino de Rego Barros will now serve as its new chief executive.
Trading of the company's shares was put on hold during pre-market trading leading up to the announcement, but Equifax board member Mark Feidler did his best to reassure investors and the public that the company has dedicated all its efforts to preventing a similar data breach from occurring in the future, saying:
"The Board remains deeply concerned about and totally focused on the cybersecurity incident. We are working intensely to support consumers and make the necessary changes to minimise the risk that something like this happens again. Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologise. We have formed a Special Committee of the Board to focus on the issues arising from the incident and to ensure that all appropriate actions are taken."
Two weeks ago, Equifax revealed to the public that cyber criminals had accessed its network during May and remained in the system until their presence was discovered in late-July. A wealth of sensitive user information was obtained by the hackers including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even the driver's license numbers of some consumers.
Richard Smith will also forego his annual bonus as part of his termination agreement.
So far Equifax has handled the data breach poorly, and winning back consumer trust will certainly be difficult for the company but Smith stepping down as CEO is a step in the right direction.
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