Yahoo confirmed that about 500 million account details were hacked from their server two years ago. The company has done the unusual by bullishly shifting the blame on some faceless government agency.
In effect, Yahoo is saying this security breach is a conspiracy by powerful people determined to get some information from Yahoo servers. In other words, they were powerless to stop it.
Everybody knows it is all nonsense. No serious person would belief that claim from Yahoo.
Yahoo would rue the day it decided not to fully investigate the rumours earlier in the summer that it’s servers had been hacked and millions of users account stolen.
This could seriously affect the sale of Yahoo to Verizon. The deal was announced two months ago. Though nothing has been signed and sealed yet, sources say the acquisition is nearing completion as Verizon is almost through with due diligence of Yahoo’s core operations.
The worry now among Yahoo shareholders is this news could push down the price Verizon is willing to pay for Yahoo. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to be burdened with the task of cleaning that sort of huge mess.
Possible legal issues could mean loss of a huge chunk of money to whoever is saddled with the task of paying.
Naturally, Verizon would not want to be the party to settle any liability arising out of the security breach.
On the other side are Yahoo users. This is the sort of thing that would make them stop using the services of Yahoo. Nobody would want to keep their details where it could be accessed by some faceless hacker.
The news of the security breach surfaced for the first time in August. A notorious Internet criminal, known as Peace, revealed on a website that in his possession were the account details of 200 million users of Yahoo.
The details he had dated from about 4 years ago and he was going to sell all of them for just under $2000 on the internet’s black market. So for just that small amount, somebody who could do a lot of harm with that sort of information would have access to details of about 500 million people. It is mind boggling.
When Peace revealed this information, Yahoo told the world they knew of the existence of such claim by the hackers and would investigate to see how authentic it was.
Apparently, the investigation by Yahoo did not go far enough because they did not take the threat serious enough. For instance, they did not warn their users to do a password reset to secure their accounts details.
At least a message like that would have given the impression they took the threat seriously and we’re on top of the situation; just like Dropbox did recently when it emailed users to reset their accounts after a suspected breach.
Marissa Mayer’s Legacy
Something like this would be a real stain on the career of outgoing CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer. When she took over the helm of affairs 4 years ago, her task was clear enough – return Yahoo to its glory days as one of the biggest players in the tech world.
To say she failed in that mission is an understatement. It was the series of failures over the last four years that lead to a point where selling the company before it became worthless was the best case scenario.
She would have used that sale to repair the damage done to her reputation in the last four years. But going out under a cloud of this massive security breach would do her reputation no favours at all.
So thanks to a hacker known as Peace, Marissa Mayer isn’t even allowed to salvage something from her stay as the CEO of Yahoo.
The best thing to do now is to involve some efficient PR firm to try and spin this bad news favourably. But that figure of 500 million is something that would be very hard to spin positively.
It is safe to say that if you have a Yahoo account, you are affected. The right thing to do is to secure it as best as you can. The most effective way to do it is described in detail here.
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