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Imagine the following: Cyber criminals attack a credit reporting agency, compromising 143 million American records—one of the largest data breaches on record. While the attack is incredibly impactful, these cyber criminals, looking to cripple the financial sector, use the data breach as a smoke screen to surreptitiously attack the credit reporting agency’s data collection, analysis and reporting systems, which in totality ensure that no data produced by the reporting agency can be relied upon. Once discovered, the attack on the integrity of the agency’s data causes all credit data to be rendered useless, utterly devastating the entire financial market and causing widespread distrust of financial institutions across the world.

While this may seem like a contrived example pulled from the pages of a Mr. Robot script, it is certainly a possibility that could have happened in the now infamous Equifax data breach, which was first disclosed on September 7, 2017. The skill required to successfully exfiltrate 143 million records, is certainly sufficient to successfully attack the integrity of that very same data. It is generally accepted that cyber criminals have not performed integrity attacks because there is a minimal profit motive: Records have a black-market value; in integrity attacks, there is no deliverable that can be sold.

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