On Thursday, credit reporting agency Equifax announced that it has been the target of a massive data breach. This attack resulted in the records of 143 million consumers’ information being compromised, including credit cards numbers, social security numbers, driver's license numbers, and other personal identifying information. It is possibly the single worst security breach in United States history. Equifax did not fully disclose all of the information that may have been included in the breach and did not offer an explanation as to why they waited months to disclose the breach, which they learned of on July 29, to the public.
It was reported shortly after the public announcement of the breach that three Equifax executives, including the chief financial officer, unloaded company stock in the days following the July 29, because simply losing this colossal amount of private user information was not bad enough. In a statement on Thursday, Equifax explained that the few million dollars worth of stock that the executive sold prior to the public disclosure of the breach was unrelated and it was only a “small percentage” of their shares and that the executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.”
I am money stupid, but I would think that if my company, the largest credit reporting agency in the country, allowed the worst breach of consumer information in history, that our chief financial officer would be made privy to that information. If I am paying said officer enough stock that selling millions of dollars worth of that stock only would only comprise a “small percentage” of the total holdings, I would assume the employee was important enough to know of the breach.
The Securities and Exchange Commision failed to comment on the reports of the stock sales. I am 100 percent confident that these three men who unloaded their stock between the time of the breach discovery and public announcement did so with no ill intent. In the event that they are found to have violated any finance law or regulation, I am sure that they will be charged and convicted accordingly and would be subject to punishment to the fullest extent of the law, just like if you or I had stolen a couple of thousand dollars from a bank.