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Latta: Equifax data breach could have been avoided easily

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    U.S. Rep Robert Latta at Owens Community College in Perrysburg.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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    U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, left, speaks with Mike Tuomey, vice president of finance for AK Tube LLC, following the cybersecurity event Wednesday at Owens Community College’s campus in Perrysburg Township.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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U.S. Rep Robert Latta at Owens Community College in Perrysburg.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
Enlarge | Buy This Image

The massive data breach disclosed by Equifax last September could put as many 143 millions Americans at financial risk for the rest of their lives.

The penetration by cyber thieves into the company's network may even impact U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, (R., Bowling Green) because a credit report with personal information about him and his wife was among the data compromised in the cybercrime, the congressman said Wednesday at a cybersecurity program at Owens College in Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Latta said the breach could have been avoided had Equifax heeded warnings and installed a software patch into its network.

About 50 people representing companies involved in manufacturing, health care, banking, and telecommunications attended the hourlong presentation of Bryan Smith, an assistant special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland office.

"How do we make sure we don't have cyber attacks? How do we keep the attacks from occurring?" said Mr. Latta, who sponsored the program. "It is important for the folks here at home to understand they have a great source with the FBI and the cyber units they have."

Agent Smith talked about cyber theft, best practices, and other information beneficial in preventing and mitigating cyber attacks.

VIDEO: U.S. Rep. Bob Latta discusses cybersecurity

"You’ve got a wonderful resource in the FBI," Mr. Latta said. "We are being attacked every day by the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians. They are out there every day attacking us."

Mr. Latta, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, said he learned through the prepared testimony of former Equifax chief executive Richard Smith that the company was notified months before the hack of a patch that would have protected its network.

"It came down to one thing: They were notified by a federal agency to do something. But that didn't happen," he said. "Just one simple patch and they would have never been in the news."

Dan Petrie, vice president of information technology for Welltower, said Mr. Smith offered useful insight on the latest techniques and trends used by hackers to invade security systems.

"He provided good information on some of the services the FBI provides across the full spectrum of their investigation capabilities. There are certainly things we should be utilizing and leveraging," he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at or 419-724-6199.

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