Equifax Breach Draws £11.2 Million Penalty as FCA Affirms Tough Stance on Cybersecurity

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has demonstrated its commitment to enforcing strong cybersecurity and data protection standards in the financial services industry. This was recently exemplified by the FCA’s £11.2 million fine imposed on Equifax Ltd for failing to protect the personal data of nearly 14 million UK consumers during a major cybersecurity breach in 2017.

The breach, which impacted a total of 147 million consumers globally, was deemed by the FCA as entirely preventable. Equifax Ltd failed to properly oversee and protect customer data that was outsourced to its parent company Equifax Inc. in the US. Known weaknesses in Equifax’s systems were not addressed, allowing cybercriminals to access sensitive personal information including names, birthdates, addresses, and credit card details.

According to the FCA’s findings, Equifax was negligent in its cybersecurity arrangements. The company did not keep its systems and software up to date and was slow to detect and respond to the breach. Equifax also failed to notify impacted customers promptly. The FCA emphasised that regulated financial firms have a clear duty to implement and maintain robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard customer data.

The Equifax breach highlights the constant threat of cyberattacks facing financial institutions. As FCA executive Therese Chambers stressed how imperative it is that firms maintain the highest standards in data protection, particularly with the rising threat of cybercriminals.  Proactive cybersecurity and timely breach notification are essential. When lapses occur, the FCA is prepared to take strong enforcement action.

What does this mean for UK Firms?

This substantial fine for Equifax reinforces the FCA’s commitment to holding financial firms accountable for cybersecurity failures that jeopardise consumer data. Financial institutions must make cybersecurity and data protection top priorities, or risk facing significant penalties from regulators. The FCA has sent a clear message that it will continue to strictly enforce standards and penalties for non-compliance.

How Complyport Can Help

At Complyport, our Operational Resilience and Cybersecurity team understand the complex IT infrastructure and cyber risk landscape within the UK financial services. Our seasoned specialists have extensive experience and can assist your firm with:

  • Comprehensive audits of IT systems using various frameworks and technical standards
  • Identification of vulnerabilities, gaps, and areas for improvement through appropriate technical testing (including penetration testing)
  • Development  of cybersecurity and operational resilience frameworks based on International Standards (ISO 27001, Iso 22301, etc)
  • Establish a cyber risk management framework
  • One-off IT and cyber risk assessments
  • Expert guidance on cybersecurity technical and organisation controls including security incident response

Please contact Thomas Salmon for any questions and assistance regarding your firms IT infrastructure and safeguarding against potential cyber risks. Email thomas.salmon@complyport.co.uk to book in a free consultation.

About Complyport

Complyport is a market-leading consulting firm supporting the UK financial services industry for over 20 years. We specialise in providing Governance, Risk and Compliance services to support the regulated financial services industry to raise standards and thrive.

We specialise in supporting the UK financial services industry with compliance guidance, advice and best practice.

  • Operational resilience & Cybersecurity advice
  • Financial Promotions guidance, support, and management software solutions
  • Consumer Duty implementation advice
  • Financial Crime support and Forensics
  • Prudential support, IFPR, ICARA and financial resilience advice
  • CASS advice and protections of client assets
  • Comprehensive compliance work-flow management software
  • Compliance managed services and resourcing compliance personnel
  • Skilled Person Reviews and Regulatory Investigation

Contact Thomas Salmon in our Regulatory Solutions team via email at: thomas.salmon@complyport.co.uk to book a free consultation.

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