On Thursday, credit-reporting service Equifax revealed a massive cybersecurity breach that could affect up to 44 percent of the U.S. population, with the names and social security numbers of up to 143 million Americans accessed by intruders, along with credit card numbers for 209,000 people and other documents for 182,000 U.S. consumers. Equifax said it discovered the breach July 29, and that hackers may have gained access to company databases in mid-May. A few days after Equifax discovered the intrusion, three top executives sold about $1.8 million worth of stock. The company says the timing was coincidental.
"The three executives who sold a small percentage of their Equifax shares on Tuesday, August 1, and Wednesday, August 2, had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares," said Equifax spokeswoman Ines Gutzmer. None of the regulatory filings listing the transactions — CFO John Gamble sold shares worth $946,000; Joseph Lougrahn, president of U.S. information services, exercised $584,000 in stock options; and Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,000 of stock — were listed "as being part of 10b5-1 scheduled trading plans," Bloomberg reports. Equifax's shares dropped 13 percent in extended trading Thursday night.