Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Easy pickings: Hackers accessed Equifax's computer network as early as last March, two months earlier than the company believes it was breached, and roamed undetected for more than four months, according to FireEye, the security firm whose Mandiant unit has been hired by Equifax to investigate the attack. Equifax said it didn't discover the breach until July 29 and didn't disclose it until September 7.
How easy is it to hack Equifax? Software engineer Nick Sweeting created an imitation of Equifax's website about the security breach that apparently was close enough to the real thing that it fooled some people at the company itself. Several posts from Equifax's Twitter account directed consumers to Sweeting's site, securityequifax2017.com, rather than to the real one, equifaxsecurity2017.com. The posts were deleted after the mistake was publicized.
"I knew it would only cost me $10 to set up a site that would get people to notice, so I just did it," Sweeting told the New York Times. "Their site is dangerously easy to impersonate. It only took me 20 minutes to build my clone."
The Times also carried an opinion piece making an argument to "nationalize Equifax and the other two major credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion. We could follow other countries' example and hand the duty of tracking our financial histories over to a public registry instead of a private profiteer."
And speaking of hacks: The Securities and Exchange Commission said its electronic system for storing public-company filings, Edgar, was penetrated last year and the hackers may have traded on the information. The agency didn't become aware of the hack until last month. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post
Wall Street Journal
Fed bonus: The Federal Reserve's decision Wednesday to start winding down its $4.5 trillion balance sheet next month "will have far-reaching effects throughout the banking system," the Journal's Heard on the Street column reports. "For the most part, major banks stand to benefit."
Allowing $6 billion of Treasury bonds and $4 billion of mortgage-backed securities to run off every month "should push up long-term interest rates somewhat, resulting in a steeper yield curve that will help bank profitability," it says. "But the impact on banks won't stop there." Banks will also benefit by not having to leave as much money deposited at the Fed, earning higher rates elsewhere. "Over time this could become a significant income boost to some lenders," the column said.
Where are the deals?: While the Trump rally has been good for bank stocks, bank M&A is another story. The number of bank deals announced so far this year is down from last year and is on track for the fewest deals since 2009. "The downtick in deals partially stems from a shift in the way banks do business," the Journal noted. "While banks have been open to buying fintech firms or loan portfolios, buying other banks looks less enticing as branches become less important to serving customers."
Staying under the radar: China's crackdown on digital currencies forced organizers of a bitcoin and blockchain conference to move the gathering to Hong Kong from Beijing "to lower the risks of being canceled." John McAfee, founder of the antivirus software company that bears his name and a bitcoin bull, called the Chinese trading ban "the opening bell of what will get worse and worse." Still, he predicted that "the creators, designers and innovators will find a way around it. They always do and always will." (American Banker also touched on this: "Could Chinese regulators put an end to blockchain assets?")
Still, executives from two Chinese bitcoin exchanges were prevented from leaving the mainland to speak at the conference.
Calling on Asia: Antony Jenkins, the former Barclays CEO who launched fintech group 10x Future Technologies last year, is planning to expand into Asia after receiving financial backing from Chinese insurer Ping An and Oliver Wyman. Jenkins' company "is building technology to allow banks, fintech firms and other financial companies to retrieve their customers' data more quickly in order to offer them faster, cheaper services."
"Let me say that I consider the behavior of Wells Fargo toward its customers to have been egregious and unacceptable." — Fed Chair Janet Yellen at her news conference following the Fed's monetary policy meeting Wednesday.