Equifax takes down web page after report of new hack

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Equifax Inc said on Thursday it has taken one of its customer help website pages offline as its security team looks into reports of another potential cyber breach at the credit reporting company, which recently disclosed a hack that compromised the sensitive information of more than 145 million people.

The move came after an independent security analyst on Wednesday found part of Equifax’s website was under the control of attackers trying to trick visitors into installing fraudulent Adobe Flash updates that could infect computers with malware, the technology news website Ars Technica reported.

“We are aware of the situation identified on the equifax.com website in the credit report assistance link,” Equifax spokesman Wyatt Jefferies said in an email. “Our IT and security teams are looking into this matter, and out of an abundance of caution have temporarily taken this page offline.”

The Atlanta-based company, which has faced seething criticism from consumers, regulators and lawmakers over its handling of the earlier breach, said it would provide more information as it becomes available.

As of 1:15 p.m. (1715 GMT), the web page in question said: “We’re sorry… The website is currently down for maintenance. We are working diligently to better serve you, and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We appreciate your patience during this time and ask that you check back with us soon.”

Equifax shares were down 1.2 percent at $ 109.18 in early afternoon trading.

Randy Abrams, the independent analyst who noticed the possible hack, said he was attempting to check some information in his credit report late on Wednesday when one of the bogus pop-up ads appeared on Equifax’s website.

His first reaction was disbelief, he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he recalled thinking. Then he successfully replicated the problem at least five times, making a video that he posted to YouTube.

Equifax’s security protocols have been under scrutiny since Sept. 7 when the company disclosed its systems had been breached between mid-May and late July.

The breach has prompted investigations by multiple federal and state agencies, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, and it has led to the departure of the company’s chief executive officer, chief information officer and chief security officer.

As a credit reporting agency, Equifax keeps vast amounts of consumer data for banks and other creditors to use to determine the chances of their customers’ defaulting.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Bill Rigby


Gannett takes stake in digital media firm Grateful Ventures

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc, publisher of USA Today, said on Wednesday it has made its first major investment outside of news with a majority investment in Grateful Ventures, an online media company that focuses on lifestyle content including videos about food and cooking.

Gannett, which also owns local newspapers and websites across the United States, is looking to expand its audience as the print media industry struggles with declining advertising and circulation revenue, and younger audiences increasingly read news and watch TV online.

The investment is less than $ 10 million, Gannett said, declining to provide specifics.

Grateful Ventures will initially produce videos and content about food and cooking that will appear on Gannett websites and other social media, said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Gannett’s chief transformation officer.

There is potential to expand to beauty and health and wellness, she said.

The categories will help Gannett increase its female audience, Wadsworth added, which is a coveted demographic for some advertisers.

“Our aim is to become a daily destination for our audience, so tapping into lifestyle will help that,” she said.

The companies plan to use a variety of advertising strategies to make money from the videos. Those include working with internet cooks who have a wide following and producing branded content, Grateful Ventures chief executive Kyle Cox said in an interview.

Other newspaper companies have also ramped up content outside of news, such as The New York Times Co, which introduced a separate digital subscription for its NYT Cooking website in June.

Because Gannett owns papers and websites in 34 states across the country, the partnership is unique in that it can closely reach a millennial audience in a variety of markets, Cox said.

“We have an opportunity to tap into the millennials across the country, versus hearing only what the media companies on the coast are saying,” he said.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Alden Bentley

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