After huge Equifax breach, CEO "retires"

Among the data stolen in the Equifax breach were the credit card numbers of about 209,000 people

Richard Smith, who had helmed the credit report and credit score company for almost 12 years, would retire, Equifax announced on Tuesday.

Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who recently served as president of the company's Asia-Pacific region, is now Equifax's interim CEO.

Feidler continued: "Speaking for everyone on the Board, I sincerely apologize".

Along with ousting Smith, Equifax said it is creating a special committee to deal with its breach, and manage cybersecurity incidents in the future.

The company said its board will launch a search for a new CEO and consider both internal and external candidates.

In a statement, Smith said he was dedicated to rectifying the issues surrounding the data breach, but he concluded that the company needed new leadership at this point.

The fallout from the incident has been swift, with two other top executives-the chief information officer and chief security officer-stepping down a week after the company told the public it had been compromised.

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Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Smith's departure just days before the House hearing doesn't remove the company's obligation to explain the data breach and provide redress for people who were affected.

The fate of "any obligations or benefits owed" to Smith hinges on the results of the board of directors' independent review. In 2014, Target's CEO Gregg Steinhafel left his company five months after a data breach at the retail chain put the personal information of more than 70 million American consumers at risk.

EFX was then called out on its poor security website for the data breach by a software engineer.

And three Equifax executives sold large chunks of stock after the company learned about the hack but before it went public.

On September 19, Equifax Canada said it believed hackers may have had access to personal information about 100,000 Canadians, including their name, address, Social Insurance Number and some credit card numbers.

Smith has been chairman and chief executive officer of the company since 2005.

The company's stock price has tumbled as it scrambled to control the damage, including backtracking on initially making consumers give up their right to sue if they wanted free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Equifax didn't install a freely available "patch" to fix a vulnerability with the software after that security problem was detected and publicly announced on March 7, by various organizations, the suit contends.

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