One billion accounts affected as Yahoo suffers world’s biggest hack

1 billion, Yahoo, 2013, 500 million accounts, Verizon, Hack
1 billion, Yahoo, 2013, 500 million accounts, Verizon, Hack

In a major breach in personal data, Internet giant Yahoo has revealed that accounts of at least 1 billion users were hacked in 2013, resulting in release of user names, telephone numbers, dates of birth and other personal information.

News of the hack, coming after the announcement in September of a separate hack affecting 500 million accounts, means that Yahoo has been the victim of the two largest data breaches ever reported.

The announcement came after Yahoo agreed to sell its core businesses to telecommunications giant Verizon in July for $4.8 billion (roughly Rs. 32,495 crores).

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“This is another major blow,” said Jeff Kagan, a Georgia-based telecommunications industry analyst. “It throws into question what’s really going on at Yahoo. And if you don’t really know what’s going on at Yahoo, does Verizon have the guts to buy a potential bomb? This company could explode with major problems and major losses.”

According to report, in the 2013 incident, Yahoo said that credit card and bank account numbers, which are stored separately, were not affected, but the breach did include some unencrypted “security questions” that the company uses to authenticate users.

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Yahoo also reported a separate incident Wednesday in which hackers used what the company called “forged cookies” to gain access to some accounts, though it did not give the number. That incident, the company said, appeared to have links to the one announced in September involving “state-sponsored” attackers. Law enforcement officials said that breach, which happened in 2014, was probably the work of Russian hackers, though no final conclusion has been reached.

To minimize the damage, Yahoo is alerting affected customers and requiring them to change their passwords. But the scale of the hack and the time that has passed since it happened suggests that few of the company’s customers were unaffected. Given the size of the two hacks, many Yahoo users are likely to have had their information stolen more than once.

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Yahoo has said it has more than 1 billion users worldwide, though the company’s fortunes have been sagging for years as other tech companies have snatched away pieces of its search, email and other Web-based businesses.

that Yahoo security measures were inadequate. So it is more likely there will be future breaches uncovered,” said Laura Martin, senior analyst at Needham & Co. “It sounds to me like they never knew about any of these breaches, which means they never fixed the problem. That implies that the assets are actually less valuable than we thought.”

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