Equifax CEO Richard Smith is out after massive internet breach of consumer data

NEW YORK _ Credit reporting agency Equifax is ousting CEO Richard Smith in an effort to clean up the mess following a data breach that exposed highly sensitive information about millions of consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

Smith’s sudden departure comes less than three weeks after Equifax revealed that a security breach had exposed sensitive information about 143 million in the United States..

It later said about 100,000 Canadian consumers may have had their personal information compromised in the massive cyberattack, in addition to 400,000 in the United Kingdom.

Equifax said hackers exploited a software flaw that the company didn’t fix to heist Social Security or Social Insurance numbers, birthdates and other personal data that provide the keys to identify theft.

Although many analysts had applauded Equifax’s performance under Smith, who had been CEO since 2005, he and the rest of his management team had come under fire for lax security and its response to the breach.

Smith’s departure follows the abrupt retirement of Equifax’s chief security officer and chief information officer

Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. has been named interim CEO.