Feb 10, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 406 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Equifax hack indictments

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Equifax hack that exposed the private data of 145 million Americans finally has an indictment.

Why it matters: Today's Justice Department charges against four Chinese military members bring good news for everyday Americans, and bad news for America, says Axios' Scott Rosenberg.

  • The good news: Individually, Americans can probably feel a little bit better knowing they won't be personally blackmailed or find their bank accounts siphoned off as a result of their data having been scarfed up in the Equifax breach.
  • The bad news: China has added detailed profiles of 145 million Americans to other data it's widely assumed to have acquired in the OMB, Marriott and Anthem Health breaches. Its ability to profile American citizens may still not be up to the level of the surveillance of its own population, but it's improving at a fast clip.

The big picture: This shows how China is rapidly learning how to both weaponize and monetize data about average people.

  • The Chinese previously had a pattern of building profiles of Americans with national security jobs, per the N.Y. Times.
  • That includes where these officials have traveled, the status of their physical health, and whether they face financial duress that would make them vulnerable to blackmail, U.S. officials told the Times.

Between the lines: "According to the indictment, in March 2017, a software firm announced a vulnerability in one of its products, but Equifax did not patch the vulnerability on its online dispute portal, which used that particular software," the WashPost reports.

  • "In the months that followed, the Chinese military hackers exploited that unrepaired software flaw to steal vast quantities of Equifax’s files, the indictment charges."

Go deeper: Read the indictment

Bonus: Pic du jour

Joe Biden in Gilford, New Hampshire, today. Photo: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tomorrow's nail biter: Can Joe Biden avoid a 5th place New Hampshire finish?

2. What you missed
  1. Coronavirus has now killed at least 910 people worldwide, and the number of cases on the quarantined cruise ship outside Tokyo has nearly doubled. Go deeper.
  2. Amazon wants to depose President Trump as part of its lawsuit against the Pentagon for granting a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft. Go deeper.
  3. Last night's Oscars had its lowest rating ever. Go deeper.
  4. The Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns are seeking a partial recanvass of Iowa caucus results. Go deeper.
  5. BBC Studios will produce a documentary series on Greta Thunberg's "international crusade." Go deeper.
  6. Brazilian soccer great Pelé is "depressed over his poor health and reluctant to leave the house because he cannot walk unaided," his son says. Go deeper.
3. Pup du jour

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Thor the bulldog naps before competition at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, which started today.

  • Thor most recently won the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's National Dog Show in November.