24 September, 2016
Yahoo confirmed on Thursday that hackers stole personal information from at least 500 million accounts, in possibly the biggest such breach of an email provider in history. The firm says its investigation suggests the stolen data doesn't include payment and bank account information.
An investigation by the Silicon Valley-based company has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014 by what it believes is a "state- sponsored" actor, the company said. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.
Later, it was revealed that Yahoo had notified the Irish authorities about the breach on Thursday.
Both companies have been forced to contact subscribers asking them to change their passwords following the attack. In 2 factor authentication, which you can use on Apple iCloud, Google, Facebook and other accounts (including Yahoo), users still use a password but also use an app on their phone to provide an access key that is available for a limited time when a user logs in. Schneier also said that the impact on the tech company and its users remained unclear, for the reason that many questions remain, which includes the identity of the state-sponsored hackers behind it. "Until then, we are not in a position to comment further".
"You may have seen Yahoo's announcement that user account information was stolen from its network in late 2014", said the company.
A statement released by Yahoo reads: "The investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is now in Yahoo's network".
Yahoo offers a service called Account Key, which eliminates the need to remember passwords.
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Confirmation of the major cyber breach comes two months after Yahoo sealed a deal to sell its core internet business to telecom giant Verizon for $4.8 billion, ending a two-decade run as an independent company. It's also potentially bad for Yahoo! email users.
The Yahoo breach follows a rising number of other large-scale data attacks and could make it a watershed event that prompts government and businesses to put more effort into bolstering defenses, said Dan Kaminsky, a well-known internet security expert.
The search engine is set to be acquired by USA network operator Verizon but a hack of this magnitude is sure to influence the value of the $4.8 billion (~R65.1 billion) acquisition.
It was not immediately clear when Yahoo told the watchdog of the cyber attack or whether the Irish Data Protection Commission would take the lead in the investigation.
The firm, Hold Security, gave no details of the companies affected by the hack. "Under Marissa's leadership at Yahoo, we've worked hard to ensure that our information infrastructure is more secure than ever", a Yahoo spokeswoman said.
Mark Skilton, a professor of practice at Warwick Business School I the United Kingdom, said the hack could provide a "significant headache for Verizon in its planned imminent takeover of Yahoo!".