Equifax’s CEO is stepping down in the wake of the massive data breach

Following the massive cybersecurity breach at the company, the CEO of Equifax is stepping down.

Earlier this month, the credit reporting agency disclosed that a hack had endangered the personal information of 143 million US-based users, an incident that has led to a swell of criticism toward the company.

In a statement, the now-former CEO Richard Smith called serving in the job an “honor.” He had worked in the position since 2005.

“The cybersecurity incident has affected millions of consumers, and I have been completely dedicated to making this right,” Smith said in the statement.

“At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward.” The company says it has installed an interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., as it searches for a permanent replacement.

Smith’s departure followed two other executive exits. Earlier this month, Equifax said its chief information officer and chief security officer were also stepping down.

The scale of the data breach — the United States has a total population of about 320 million, and the breached data included Social Security numbers — has resulted in a unique public anger toward the company, and toward credit reporting agencies in general.

Since its disclosure of the incident, reports have suggested that the hack may have happened earlier than was publicly known, but the company has also made missteps in the open, including directing hack victims to a phishing site.

Although the flight of executives is a means to show contrition for the incident, the company may still face consequences from regulators: the FTC has confirmed that it is investigating the circumstances of the breach. Next week, Smith is also set to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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