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Equifax data breach: U-M experts can comment

EXPERTS ADVISORY

The fallout over the Equifax data breach affecting 143 million American consumers has just begun. University of Michigan experts are ready to comment on a number of story angles including legal, ethical and branding implications.

Erik Gordon is a clinical assistant professor at the Ross School of Business whose focuses include entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.

He can address topics such as who can sue whom for what, damage to Equifax's business and brand, likely new laws and regulations, how it compares to past hacks, Equifax's mistakes after discovering the breaches, and how to protect yourself.

"The breach and Equifax's handling of the breach will have broad consequences to everyone who stores large amounts of other people's personal data or everyone whose data is stored," he said. "Whether or not there is new regulation, there will be new standards of legal liability and of business conduct. It is impossible to assure that data isn't stolen but it is possible to assure that data will be handled in particular ways."

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David Mayer, associate professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business, is an expert on business ethics.

"It's strange because I think most people know their data could be breached but do not seem to concerned even though the effects could be catastrophic," he said.

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Nejat Seyhun, professor of finance at the Ross School of Business, is best known for his research on backdating of executive options, impact of insider trading, long-run performance of IPOs, managerial overconfidence and other financial topics. Here he comments on the news that three Equifax executives sold thousands of shares just after the company learned of the data breach.

"The critical issue is whether the three executives had the nonpublic information at the time they sold and whether they understood that this information was material," he said. "If the answer is yes to both questions, then given the close proximity between the discovery and sale, this could be very serious and ugly for the three executives. Even if the amount sold is a small proportion of their holdings, the dollar amounts (of loss avoided) are substantial. The drop in the stock price after the announcement tells us that the information was definitely material."

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