The Equifax data breach that compromised the personal data of almost 150 million Americans in 2017 unfolded like a classic robbery. 

The criminals identified a flaw in the credit agency’s security system, executed a plan of attack to penetrate it and devised a scheme to cover their tracks on their way out, according to a criminal indictment unsealed Monday.

Those alleged criminals, four members of the Chinese military, exploited a flaw in software that allowed U.S. consumers to dispute problems with their Equifax credit reports. That gave the hackers access to Americans’ personal information, according to the indictment.

The breach occurred after Equifax security officials failed to install a software upgrade that had been recommended to seal off digital intruders from obtaining access to the names, birthdates and Social Security numbers of the victims, the indictment says.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury in Atlanta delivered a nine-count indictment accusing four hackers and members of China’s People’s Liberation Army – Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei – of serving as masterminds of the hack.



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