Equifax has revealed that the cause of its massive data breach was a flaw it should have patched weeks before it was attacked.
Equifax has updated its website (www.equifaxsecurity2017.com) with a new “A Progress Update for Consumers” that opens as follows:
Equifax has been intensely investigating the scope of the intrusion with the assistance of a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to determine what information was accessed and who has been impacted. We know that criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability. The vulnerability was Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. We continue to work with law enforcement as part of our criminal investigation, and have shared indicators of compromise with law enforcement.
The Apache Foundation stated earlier this week that it reported CVE-2017-5638 in March 2017. The NIST notification states it as being notified on March 10th.
Equifax was breached in “mid-May” 2017, realized it in July and reported it publicly in early September. If we take “mid-May” as the 15th of the month, Equifax had nine working weeks in which to apply the patch.
That its data breach was entirely avoidable is not the end of Equifax's woes, as the new Progress Update also reveals that “Due to the high volume of security freeze requests, we experienced temporary technical difficulties and our system was offline for approximately an hour at 5PM ET on September 13, 2017 to address this issue.”
The company also appears to have suffered another data breach, this time in Argentina where its Bryan Krebs reports “an online portal designed to let Equifax employees in Argentina manage credit report disputes from consumers in that country was wide open, protected by perhaps the most easy-to-guess password combination ever: “admin/admin.” ®