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Goizueta professors predict long recovery from Equifax breach

While the initial shock of a tremendously personal data breach of Equifax has subsided, two Goizueta Business School professors have said the fallout could go on for years, or even a decade. 

In late September, embattled Equifax CEO Richard Smith stepped down, less than a month after the credit reporting agency announced that a hack to its computer system exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans. In recent weeks, it was reported that nearly 11 million driver’s licenses were among the data in the breach. 

The fallout has been significant, from top leadership stepping down, to the stock price dropping some 40 percent before a small rebound. 

Overall, three top executives stepped down, and interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., most recently president of the Asia Pacific region, replaced Smith. Equifax is also facing several state and federal inquiries, class-action lawsuits and congressional investigations. 

Earlier this month, the IRS temporarily suspended the $7.2 million, no-bid contract it awarded to Equifax to verify the identities of taxpayers when they create accounts on its website.

Peter Topping, associate professor in the Practice of Organization & Management at Goizueta, said previous hacks of companies like Target, Home Depot and Yahoo may suggest the recovery period would be relatively short, the scope of this breach, and the fact that the company is supposedly in the business of secure information, may extend this to a two-year time frame.  

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