The boss of credit reference agency Equifax has stepped down from his post less than a month after it was revealed the company had been the victim of a massive data breach.
Richard Smith, who had been chief executive and chairman of the firm since 2005, will be replaced on a temporary basis by Paulino de Rego Barros Jr while a search is conducted for a more permanent CEO.
Equifax has been under intense pressure in the wake of a massive hack that compromised the data of 143 million US customers.
Details stolen included social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driving license numbers.
209,000 US customers also had their credit card details accessed in the attack.
Around 400,000 people in the UK are thought to also have been affected by the breach.
Video: Sept 2017: Equifax data hack ‘an unmitigated disaster’
“The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right,” Mr Smith said in a statement.
“At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward.”
The company is one of a number of firms holding information on millions of people so that banks, utility firms and landlords can carry out credit checks before offering credit or agreeing contracts with them.
Video: Sept 2017: Minister for digital on Equifax breach
The hackers were able to exploit an unpatched software flaw to gain access to Equifax’s systems.
The attack was discovered to have run from mid-May until 29 July, but the US company took 40 days to inform customers that their personal details had been compromised.
Three senior executives at the company – which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange – sold shares worth almost $1.8m before the breach was publicly disclosed, but news reports have said they were unaware of the hack at the time of the transactions.
The firm’s share price value dropped by over 12% when news of the attack was announced.
Equifax’s chief information officer and chief security officer retired from the organisation with immediate effect in the wake of the revelations.
Source: Sky News