Last year, credit reporting bureau Equifax was in the headlines after a massive hacking event that created a serious PR crisis for a company that is a self-appointed protector of citizen’s most personal financial information. That breach put nearly 149 million Americans’ personal data at risk, making it the largest breach of its kind in history. Naturally, the news media and consumers erupted when they learned of the hack.
Equifax Back in the Headlines
While still trying to dig out of that consumer PR hole, Equifax has found itself back in the headlines, as a former company executive has been charged with insider trading. Jun Ying, the former chief information officer of Equifax’s US Information Solutions, is accused of selling off nearly $1 million in shares right before news of the company’s massive data breach hit the media.
In addition to the federal insider trading charges, Ying is being charged with similar crimes by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ying’s attorneys released a statement that he would not be speaking to the media about the charges.
Ying is not the only Equifax executive that unloaded shares right before the PR crisis over the hack exploded. CFO John Gamble and three other executives also sold shares worth about $1.8 million, total. This happened only days after certain company employees learned of the hack, according to the Associated Press. However, in this case, an independent committee hired by Equifax determined these executives had not yet learned of the breach prior to their trades.
Ying was reportedly “entrusted” with nonpublic information, and he was, reportedly, first in line to follow outgoing global CIO Dave Webb. All those prospects ended when news of what Ying likely knew and what he did with that information surfaced.
Equifax Customers Not Happy
Certain Equifax employees learned of the breach in late July. By mid-August many internal database credentials had been changed. Ying knew this, because some employees who made the changes reported to him. In the process of fixing the mess, Ying texted a co-worker: “Sounds bad… We may be the one breached… I’m starting to put 2 and 2 together.”
Ying then used a work computer to research what happened to Experian stock after a breach in 2015. Shortly thereafter, he sold all his available stock for nearly one million dollars, a net gain of nearly $500,000.
So, the timeline for Ying’s behavior seems pretty incriminating, and prosecutors surely think it is. We don’t know yet what will come of it, but it appears that Ying not getting that CIO job may be the least of his immediate problems.