Yahoo released a statement Wednesday confirming a massive security breach in August of 2013, which likely compromised the private user data of over 1 billion account holders. In a statement about the breach on its website, Yahoo, who in September of this year reported a separate breach of its systems in 2014 that affected 500 million users, explains that in November of this year it received data files from law enforcement that an unnamed third party claimed were Yahoo user data files.
News of the security breach could have an impact on Verizon’s $4.8 billion purchase of Yahoo, which was announced in July. According to the Wall Street Journal, the security breach in September caused serious concerns among Verizon’s top brass, stating that the company would be further evaluating the deal in light of the breach. One can assume this more recent development involving more than twice the number of affected accounts is going to have a serious impact on the deal, which was expected to be finalized in early 2017.
Verizon could very well use these two major security breaches at Yahoo to negotiate more favorable terms for their purchase of the company. According to Fortune magazine, the primary reasoning behind Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo is to scale its growing mobile advertising business. With the internet search portal side of Yahoo fading as a result of Google’s near monopolization of the market, and now with a pair of high-profile security breaches in 2016, Verizon is in a good position to lower its offer and capitalize on the hit Yahoo has been taking to its already diminishing reputation. As of this writing, Verizon has had no official comment on the latest security breach at Yahoo.
Yahoo users concerned about the security breach will be notified directly via email by the company, according to a page on its website detailing the breach and the steps it is taking to deal with the situation.
“We are notifying potentially affected users and posting additional information on our website. Additionally, we are taking steps to secure users’ accounts, including requiring users to change their passwords. Yahoo has also invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account.”
In the email being sent to affected users, Yahoo suggests actions users can take on their own to further safeguard themselves while using private internet accounts. The steps are not Yahoo-specific and can be seen as common sense measures all people should be taking to keep their data safe online.
“Change your passwords and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for your Yahoo account.
Review all of your accounts for suspicious activity.
Be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a web page asking for personal information.
Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails.”
These common-sense suggestions may seem like no-brainers to some people, but as the Telegraph reports in a story from early in 2016, “123456” and “password” are still the two most common passwords used on the internet, so not everyone has taken the idea of safeguarding their internet security to heart.
With two major security breaches at Yahoo, dozens of stories about hacking of large corporations, countless tales of identity theft, the WikiLeaks Podesta leaks that rocked politics in 2016, and even the suggestion by some within the U.S. government that Russia could have “hacked” the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, one can only hope that 2017 will finally be the year that people start taking the issue of internet security seriously. One thing we can all be sure of is that this breach at Yahoo won’t be the last time the issue of internet security makes headlines. We are living in a brave new world, and none of us really know exactly where it’s heading.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]