Reengineering a 123-year-old company: How Equifax Emerged as a High-Tech Leader in Security and Innovation
Cybercrime has surged over the past decade. In the United States, the number of data compromises in 2021 reached all-time levels, exceeding the prior record by 23 percent, according to the Identity Theft Research Center. Companies with wide-ranging data assets are increasingly targeted and are challenged to stay ahead. Here’s how Equifax rose to the challenge and became a leading authority in cybersecurity.
In 2017, Equifax experienced a cyberattack by a well-funded, sophisticated military arm of the Chinese government. This incident was an inflection point for the company, and it served as a catalyst to transform the organization from the ground up.
Equifax has since invested $1.5 billion to build a top-tier, cloud-native technology and security infrastructure. Beyond implementing advanced security capabilities, Equifax embedded a security-first culture across its people and processes. Today, the company has built one of the most effective cybersecurity programs in business, as measured by two independent third parties.
In a recent interview series, Miriam McLemore, Enterprise Strategist at Amazon Web Services (AWS), sat down with Equifax leaders Mark Begor, Chief Executive Officer; Julia Houston, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer; and Bryson Koehler, Chief Product, Data, Analytics & Technology Officer, to discuss their journey to rebuild the company.
Watch the interviews with Mark Begor, Julia Houston and Bryson Koehler, and read more here on Equifax’s progress.
Top-tier technology with the Equifax Cloud™
Deploying a cloud-native architecture on a global scale essentially requires a reboot for a 123-year-old company. The result is the Equifax Cloud, which provides enhanced security, performance and system speed as well as the ability to deliver real-time insights across multiple data sets, improving customers’ overall experience.
Equifax has prioritized a cloud-native approach, with a goal that all future applications will be written for the cloud. While this requires more capital and effort to execute, it yields superior performance. Given the complexity, the standard for many established companies is to retrofit software for a cloud environment rather than build cloud-native.
Leveraging the infinite scalability of the public cloud, Equifax combined its unique data assets with best-of-breed encryption and computing capabilities to form a holistic approach to data governance. Begor and his team set out to securely unify more than 100 data silos into a single data platform — the first credit reporting agency to adopt an enterprise “data fabric” strategy.
“This cloud-native data fabric allows us to take that differentiated data, enrich it with our advanced analytics and deliver unique multi-data solutions,” said Julia Houston. “That is something ‘Only Equifax’ can do.”
In a rapidly evolving privacy landscape, having a single data fabric enables instant compliance. Each data asset can be configured with distinct rules that govern how the data is used, allowing Equifax to adopt new regulatory requirements in any geography. These rules can be updated at any time, ensuring 100 percent control and privacy adherence, 100 percent of the time.
Culture of trust and consumer-centricity
“Security has to be in every boardroom and in every CEO’s priorities,” Begor said. “It certainly is here at Equifax.”
As the senior leadership team set out to rebuild Equifax, its board of directors provided full support. A key focus was ensuring that security is built into every aspect of the company's systems and protocols. Today ,this commitment to data protection is ever-present, from employee training to new product innovation to digital supply chain security
“We wanted to be a leader in security,” said Bryson Koehler. “To be a leader in security … the engineering practices, the discipline that you put in place, the repeatability of your software engineering and the deployment – you have to bake security in – you can’t bolt it on to the end.”
Equifax’s investments have led to significant improvements in third-party assessments of the company’s security maturity (represents how well the company can adapt to cyber threats and manage risk over time) and posture (the company’s readiness and ability to identify, respond to, and recover from security threats and risks). With a cybersecurity strategy considered best-in-class, Equifax has restored trust among consumers and customers. As Koehler shared in his interview with AWS, Equifax is already seeing a shift in customers’ perspectives as they now look to Equifax as leaders both in security and innovation.
“We have built a culture of customer centricity,” Houston said. “That means innovating with our customers alongside them and enabling them to deliver better decision intelligence … to make their decisions faster.”
Customer innovation, cloud-native enabled
With a majority of Equifax’s international operations slated to be on the Equifax Cloud by the end of 2023, Begor, Houston and Koehler all agreed that the next few years will focus on leveraging the cloud to drive innovation.
“It’s one thing to invest to get to where you need to be, but it’s another thing to make sure you’re setting up the company for sustainability,” said Koehler. “The cloud really enables an evergreen mindset of always being current and really changing the culture … so that you’re always on the latest.”
With nearly 112,000 B2B customers having migrated to the Equifax Cloud so far – and more workloads and revenue streams being added each day – Equifax has become a leading advocate for cloud-native technology in financial services. Connecting all of a company’s platforms on a cloud-native foundation can solve some of the most pressing technical challenges. Benefits include speed, consistency and flexibility to continuously adapt the technology ecosystem, scaled across a highly secure environment.
Equipped with the Equifax Cloud, Equifax is tapping into record levels of innovation. The company delivered 151 new product innovations last year, an all-time high. Supported by new capabilities to ingest and deploy data at cloud speed, Equifax closed eight acquisitions in 2021 for nearly $3 billion — expanding its reach. Chief among those is Kount, a global leader in digital identity and fraud solutions, and Appriss Insights, the leading U.S. source for risk and criminal justice data.
“Where we want to take the company going forward is really leveraging our differentiated data assets and our cloud native capabilities to deliver solutions and innovations to help our customers grow,” said Begor.
Dive in for more details on the differentiated data, technology and security powering the Equifax Cloud™.