In the wake of Equifax's devastating security breach, which affected over 143 million US citizens, the company's CEO, Richard Smith, has announced that he will be stepping down from his leadership role and his role as Board Chairman.
The move is unsurprising given the massive public backlash regarding the data breach itself, not to mention more recent insider trading concerns with Equifax coming under fire after three high-level executives sold off part of their stock just days after the breach was discovered internally. However, the credit reporting agency has since claimed that the executives in question had no knowledge of the breach at the time.
Richard Smith offered the following statement regarding his resignation:
"Serving as CEO of Equifax has been an honor, and I'm indebted to the 10,000 Equifax employees who have dedicated their lives to making this a better company.
The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right. At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward."
Mark Feidler (a former Equifax board member) will be replacing Smith as Non-Executive Chairman, and Paulino de Rego Barros, Jr. (who recently served as President of the company's Asia Pacific division) will be taking over as interim CEO while the Board of Directors searches for a full-time replacement.
In the same company statement, Feidler offered his gratitude to Smith for his many years of service. "On behalf of the Board, I express my appreciation to Rick for his 12 years of leadership," Feidler commented. "Equifax is a substantially stronger company than it was 12 years ago."
Smith will be acting as an "unpaid adviser" to Equifax for an undisclosed amount of time in order to assist with the company's leadership transition.
It's unclear whether or not Smith's resignation (and that of two other company executives, Equifax CIO and CSO) will be enough to mitigate public anger towards the company, given the gravity and scale of the breach - but it might be a step in the right direction.