Equifax trading information and the company logo are displayed on a screen where the stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Equifax trading information and the company logo are displayed on a screen where the stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Investigators pursuing leads in the Equifax data breach are looking at the possibility the hackers had help from someone inside the company, according to a report on Friday.

An unnamed U.S. government official told Bloomberg News that the investigators were looking at that possibility. And internal investigators at the company found evidence that the initial hackers handed off to more sophisticated hackers, leading the investigators to suspect a nation-state might be involved, Bloomberg reported.

“We have no evidence of malicious inside activity,” an Equifax spokeswoman told CNBC. “We understand that law enforcement has an ongoing investigation.”

Ex-CEO Richard Smith, who abruptly quit the company earlier this week, was plagued by the fear that hackers would target the company, get past its security firewall and get their hands on Equifax’s rich vein of data on hundreds of millions of people.

But the Bloomberg story quotes a former Equifax employee that “just about any employee” at the company had a lot of access to this data and openly discussed it.

In a speech on August 17, a couple of weeks after the discovery of the breach but before the company announced it to the public, Smith said data security was “my number one worry,” citing the constant threat of spies and state-sponsored hackers.

“There’s an old saying,” Smith said during his speech in August, three weeks before the company would disclose the breach affecting as many as 143 million people, “there are those companies that have been breached and know it and there are those companies that have been breached and don’t know it. That’s how prevalent it is becoming. There are literally close to thousands of data breaches occurring in the U.S. every single year.”

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Read the full Bloomberg News story here.

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