Computer hackers swiped personal information from at least 500 million Yahoo accounts – in what is believed to be the biggest digital break-in at an email provider. The massive security breakdown disclosed on Thursday (22nd Sep) poses new problem for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
According to the company, the breach exposed at least 500 million accounts’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and, in some cases, security questions and answers. Encrypted passwords, jumbled up so only someone with the right computer code can read them, were also taken. SHOCKING!!
The internet company has appealed to the public, to change their Yahoo Account Passwords now and also added that it’s “working closely with law enforcement” on the breach, and believe that it was from a “state-sponsored actor,” though it did not specify what country.
The company has 1 billion monthly active users for all its internet services, which spans finance, online shopping and fantasy football. Its Yahoo mail service alone has about 225 million monthly active users of its Yahoo mail service
At the time of the break-in, Yahoo’s security team was led by Alex Stamos, a respected industry executive who left last year to take a similar job at Facebook.
“Cyber criminals know that consumers use the same passwords across websites and applications, which is why these millions of leaked password credentials are so useful for perpetuating fraud,” said Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, an organization that vets the security of alternatives to passwords.
“We need to take that ability away from criminals and the only way to do that is to stop relying on passwords altogether.”
This incident will also have a major impact on the sale of Yahoo to Verizon, which was announced in July this year, for $4.83 billion.
Verizon confirmed that it was notified of the massive breach within the last two days. The telecommunications giant said it had “limited information and understanding of the impact” in a statement.
That deal, announced two months ago, isn’t supposed to close until early next year. That leaves Verizon with wiggle room to renegotiate the purchase price or even back out if it believes the security breach will harm Yahoo’s business. That could happen if users shun Yahoo or file lawsuits because they’re incensed by the theft of their personal information.