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Wanted: Highly Skilled and Certified Cybersecurity Expert

I say “us” because it’s likely that I’m part of that 143 million victims. Equifax is being helpful in letting us check if our data was part of the breach. A message on their site directs consumers to the oxymoronically named equifaxsecurity2017.com, where all you enter the last six-digits of your social security number and last name. I did so and voila! I got this comforting message:

 

Equifax message

 

You believe?! Seriously, Equifax, is this the best you can do?

 

Reporters and others have called the company and been stonewalled with a message that offers the polite suggestion that customers “sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.” Then, like throwing a dog an already gnawed bone, Equifax deigns to offer a free protection service for one year through another company — even for customers not affected by the breach.

 

Legal experts warn, however, that accepting Equifax’s “thoughtful” offer may result in signing away your rights. Bah! Equifax, the company that just keeps on giving. The “fine print” in the Terms of Service section of the data breach site contains what slime dwellers —also known as lawyers — call an “arbitration clause.” Here is the relevant section:

 

AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE ALL DISPUTES BY BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE SECTION CAREFULLY BECAUSE IT AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY REQUIRING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES (EXCEPT AS SET FORTH BELOW) AND A WAIVER OF THE ABILITY TO BRING OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION, CLASS ARBITRATION, OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE ACTION. ARBITRATION PROVIDES A QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE MECHANISM FOR RESOLVING DISPUTES, BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT ALSO LIMITS YOUR RIGHTS TO DISCOVERY AND APPEAL.

 

Although the stated purpose of these clauses is to prevent an excessive burden on the courts, in practice they do nothing more than restrict consumers from suing.

 

The silver lining to this cloud is that the Federal Government is moving to bar arbitration clauses. The dark aspect of the cloud is that doing so, like everything else transacted in Washington, D.C., will take time. During which time 143 million of us are going to have to pay even closer attention to our credit card bills and wonder if we dare sign up for Equifax’s offer of protection. It’s times like this that I remember my dad’s Number One Rule for Dancing with the Devil: Don’t!

 

To further bowdlerize Henry V: “Once more unto the breach, trusting consumers; time to close up the wall with our financial well being.” Maybe a more appropriate exclamation to describe the present dilemma would come from Richard III: “A highly-skilled cybersecurity expert! My kingdom for a highly-skilled cybersecurity expert!”

 

 

Calvin Harper ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Calvin Harper is a writer, editor and publisher and has covered a variety of topics across more than two decades in media. Calvin is a GoCertify associate editor.