'You Can't Fix Stupid,' Lawmaker Tells Equifax's Former CEO

WASHINGTON DC- MAY 24 Sen. Brian Schatz speaks while flanked by Sen. Richard Durbin , and Sen. Angus King, during a news conference to discuss preexisting conditions clauses In U.S President Donald Trump's Health Care Plan

Richard Smith, the former CEO of Equifax, testified Tuesday during the first of four Congressional hearings this week concerning the massive data breach that exposed the information of 145.5 million US residents.

Legislation to avert future data breaches like the one at Equifax Inc. will fall short because none can fully prevent human error, a USA congressman told the company's former top executive.

The review adds about 2.5 million Americans to the list of those affected by the massive cyber attack, bringing the total number of people in the US potentially impacted to 145.5 million.

"The vulnerability remained in an Equifax web application much longer than it should have", Smith said in remarks prepared for delivery on Tuesday.

Smith said the breach could be attributed to a "combination of human error and technological error". The Atlanta-based company said Monday that 2.5 million more people may have been affected by the massive hack that the firm announced in September. But the "vulnerable versions" of the software were not identified or patched, Smith said. "The concept of a Social Security number in this environment being private and secure - I think it's time as a country to think beyond that", Smith said. But that may not be enough for lawmakers and consumer advocates who have asked the credit agency for more extensive remedies and protections. "They are my friends, my family, members of my church, the members of my community, my neighbors", Smith said.

While most states require companies to inform consumers affected by cyberattacks, there's no federal notification law.

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Earlier this month, the credit reporting company announced that crucial, identifying information belonging to almost half the country may have been compromised, including birth dates, home addresses and Social Security numbers. Security experts have warned that the long-term consequences of the hack will be hard to fully discern.

But Equifax's former CEO (who suddenly retired last week) told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that a single IT technician was at fault for the whole thing after they failed to install the patch.

Smith also said Equifax was "disappointed" with the rollout of a special website and call centers to deal with the fallout from the breach.

Smith said he learned about the problem on July 31 from the company's chief information officer.

Smith described the executives as "honorable men, men of integrity". The data of customers in Canada and the United Kingdom have also been stolen.

The company has said hackers exploited a vulnerability in open source Apache software it was using. On Aug. 1 and 2, Equifax Chief Financial Officer John Gamble and two other executives, Rodolfo Ploder and Joseph Loughran, sold a combined $1.8 million in stock.

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