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Equifax CEO retires in wake of damaging cyberattack

ABOVE: Massive cyber-attack at Equifax could leave millions vulnerable.

Credit reporting agency Equifax is ousting CEO Richard Smith in an effort to clean up the mess left by a damaging data breach that exposed highly sensitive information about 143 million Americans and 100,000 Canadians.

READ MORE: Equifax officials under investigation following stock sales

The shake-up announced Tuesday comes after Equifax disclosed that hackers exploited a software flaw that the company didn’t fix to heist Social Security numbers, birthdates and other personal data that provide the keys to identity theft.

Smith had been Equifax’s CEO since 2005. Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. was named interim CEO.

Although many analysts had applauded Equifax’s performance under Smith, he and the rest of his management team had come under fire for lax security and its response to the breach.

READ MORE: Equifax hack may have exposed 100,000 Canadians’ personal info

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“At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward,” Smith said.

Smith’s departure follows the abrupt retirement of Equifax’s chief security officer and chief information officer.

WATCH: Equifax reportedly knew for months about cyber-security vulnerability

Equifax reportedly knew for months about cyber-security vulnerability
Equifax reportedly knew for months about cyber-security vulnerability

*With files from Reuters

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