The top three U.S. credit-reporting companies said Thursday that they would share a single encryption standard to better protect the huge amounts of sensitive electronic data they receive every day from banks, retailers and credit card companies.
Equifax Inc., GUS subsidiary Experian Information Solutions Inc. and privately held Trans Union, which maintain databases on hundreds of millions of Americans, said the joint effort would involve the development and adoption of a data-cloaking code built on encrypted algorithms and 128-bit, secret-key technologies.
In a statement, the companies insisted that they had “long employed information security tools and programs” to ensure that the information they compiled from third parties wasn’t intercepted by thieves.
But they said that by creating and adhering to a single, beefed-up industry standard, they would “further assure the protection of sensitive consumer data when transmitted between data furnishers and credit reporting companies.”
The coordinated effort by the three traditional rivals is the latest proof of the serious threat posed by identity thieves and Internet-enabled crooks -- and the unprecedented lengths that business is going to to fight back.
The credit-reporting agencies aren’t alone in seeking strength in numbers.
Speaking at a credit card conference this week in Memphis, the top security experts at Visa and MasterCard, the two biggest card associations and longtime rivals, said that they too were cooperating to crack down on fraud.