Equi-Failure: The National Security Implications of the Equifax Hack and a Critical Proposal for Reform

Equifax hack

By McKay Smith & Garrett Mulrain

The Equifax hack, which impacted nearly half of the U.S. population, should be viewed as a triggering event for worthwhile government reform and increased public-private cooperation, creating a model that is both scalable and adaptable to multiple industries. Framed by the Equifax data breach, McKay Smith and Garrett Mulrain focus the reader on the national security implications of attacks on the American consumer economy, perpetrated by cybercriminals and hostile nation states. This article provides a detailed analysis of government oversight efforts and contains a novel and creative proposal for reform, intended to serve as a blueprint for widespread, whole-of-government action. In a pragmatic call for reform, Smith and Mulrain recommend seven concrete steps that government can take to demonstrate a renewed commitment to protecting its data, and the data of its private citizens, from malicious foreign adversaries.

Equi-failure: The National Security Implications of the Equifax Hack and a Critical Proposal for Reform

By McKay Smith

McKay Smith is an Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University Law School and the George Mason University School of Law where he teaches courses on government oversight and internal investigations. Mr. Smith served as a Senate Fellow for John McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Smith also worked as a Senior Inspector with the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General. He served in multiple capacities within that office, including as an Attorney and as the Acting Intelligence Operations Specialist. Mr. Smith earned an LL.M., with distinction, from the Georgetown University Law Center, a J.D. from William and Mary Law School, and a B.A. from the College of William and Mary. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate, the Department of Homeland Security, or the United States.

By Garrett Mulrain

Garrett Mulrain is a Law Clerk with the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law & National Security, which is charged with maintaining a diverse program of scholarship, conferences, working groups, and publications dedicated purely to law and national security-related issues. Specifically, Mr. Mulrain oversees a portfolio that includes cybersecurity, cyberwarfare, the Intelligence Community, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Guantanamo Bay litigation, and national security legislation. Prior to his clerkship, Mr. Mulrain worked with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration, as well as with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. He has represented Human Rights Watch as a European Union policy intern before the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium and has also clerked for the Egyptian-American Rule of Law Association. Mr. Mulrain earned an LL.M. in National Security & U.S. Foreign Relations Law, with highest honors, from the George Washington University Law School, and an LL.B. from University College Cork, Ireland. He also graduated from the Erasmus Mundus program while studying at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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