Yahoo may not be as big as it once was in its heyday, but the once popular web portal remains a relevant web portal for news and email. And it is quite the relevant site, in fact, that the email service has been hacked and now 500 million user accounts have been compromised. This compromise means that user information—including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, passwords, birth dates, and even, in some cases, the answers to important security questions, have all been compromised.
The breach, they discovered, happened in 2014, the company said, adding that they suspect the breach is actually a “state-sponsored” act.
The company said, in response to the acts, “Yahoo encourages users to review their online accounts for suspicious activity and to change their password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which they use the same or similar information used for their Yahoo account. The company further recommends that users avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails and that they be cautious of unsolicited communications that ask for personal information.”
Of course, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham notes that the breach certainly implies that they need to as some serious questions about their practices and policies.
She comments, “The vast number of people affected by this cyber attack is staggering and demonstrates just how severe the consequences of a security hack can be,” adding,
“The US authorities will be looking to track down the hackers, but it is our job to ask serious questions of Yahoo on behalf of British citizens and I am doing that today.”
Now, there is still much to learn about the details of the hack—who is behind it and how it could have happened, particularly in today’s ultra-secure online world—but this definitely sends an important message to all web companies regarding how they handle personal data.
As such, critics quickly pounced on the attack, commenting that this could spell disaster for the rapidly fading web behemoth.
Indeed, Centrify senior director of products and marketing Corey Williams notes that the company may be “facing an existential crisis,” since the company is already facing massive—and well-known—execution issues as well as a pending fire sale to Verizon. He explains, too, that because the 2014 breach was not handled properly, “it may very well give Verizon an ‘out’ or a reason to renegotiate.”