The top three credit reporting agencies in the US - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - have agreed to adopt a single, shared encryption standard to better protect customer data.
The companies say this coordinated approach will include the adoption of Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Triple Data Encryption Standard (3Des) algorithms that use 128-bit key encryption, which are already widely used to protect sensitive financial data.
In a statement, the agencies say the adoption of the shared standard will provide data furnishers "with a single standard of encryption that can be used when reporting data to Equifax, Experian and/or TransUnion".
Stuart Pratt, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, says this cooperative effort by three rival firms to simplify, clarify and accelerate the use of industry-level encryption standards is progressive and necessary.
"These standards address the goals being advanced by the credit reporting industry of encryption use by all data furnishers and make the implementation of encryption a single straight-forward choice for all - from the largest financial institutions to the smallest market lenders," says Pratt.
The firms say they have also established an ongoing encryption task force to ensure the adopted standards reflect the continuing progress of technologies and methods.