The hackers behind the Equifax data breach have demanded a ransom of over 600 Bitcoin, equivalent to about $2.66 million, in exchange for most of the information that they have stolen from the consumer credit reporting agency.
The payment of the ransom also has a deadline, but whether or not Equifax meets the demand of the hackers, affected customers should take the necessary steps to safeguard their information and identities.
Equifax Hackers Demand $2.66 Million Ransom
Equifax recently revealed that it suffered a massive data breach that placed 143 million Americans at risk. While the number of victims is less compared to other cybersecurity incidents such as the 1 billion victims of the infamous Yahoo hack, the Equifax hack is more dangerous due to the more sensitive information that the hackers were able to acquire.
The hackers stole data such as the names, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of customers, as well as driver's license numbers for some victims. The data breach also compromised the credit card information of 209,000 customers and deeper levels of information for 182,000 customers through dispute documents.
The Equifax hackers have now demanded a ransom of 600 Bitcoins, or about $2.66 million, for the data that they stole. In exchange for the money, they said that they will delete all of it.
However, the hackers said that Equifax only has until Sept. 15 to make the ransom payment. If the ransom is not paid by then, the hackers will release most the stolen data online. The stolen credit card information will not be part of the data that will be uploaded though, presumably so that the hackers can squeeze out a bit more by selling the information.
The ransom demand was made through an onion website, and while it is possible that the creators of the website are merely posing as the Equifax hackers, the message claimed that they can prove their threat to be real. The hackers said that they can release a specific part of the data to prove the authenticity of their claim.
The $2.66 million amount, according to the hackers, corresponds to the amount of the shares that Equifax executives sold after the company discovered the data breach, but before the incident was made public.
Equifax Data Breach Victims: What To Do?
Equifax has offered victims free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection under its TrustedID Premier program. All Americans should check whether they were affected by the hack and sign up for the program if they were.
However, in addition to signing up for the program, Equifax data beach victims should also check their credit to see if their information has already been used in unauthorized transactions. Victims are also recommended to set up a fraud alert system, and to file taxes early in case a person tries to use their information to file false tax returns to get refunds.