There's not much festive cheer at Yahoo HQ right now. The internet search giant is under increasing pressure after revealing it was the victim of a huge hack attack in 2013. Here's what you need to know.
The 2013 hack was uncovered as part of continuing investigations by authorities and security experts into a later hack in 2014. It's not clear when Yahoo knew of the first hack. Yahoo employees reportedly knew of the 2014 hack later that year, but the company did not announce the breach until September 2016.
Yahoo said it "believes an unauthorized third party, in August 2013, stole data associated with more than one billion user accounts," and that some of the breach could be linked to state-sponsored activity. They said the same about the 2014 hack, but haven't given the name of any countries they think may be responsible, and think the 2013 hack is "likely distinct" from the 2014 hack.
So far, it's not great. The company's shares closed down more than 6 percent on Wall Street amid fears that a planned sale to telecommunications giant Verizon is now in doubt. Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo's core internet business in July for $4.8 billion and are now trying to persuade Yahoo to change the terms of the agreement to take into account the economic fallout from the 2013 and 2014 hacks. If users abandon Yahoo following the hack disclosure, it clearly won't be as valuable to Verizon.
Yahoo said the 2013 hack may have affected over one billion user accounts, making it the largest data security hack in history. (The 2014 attack, which affected around 500 million accounts and was disclosed in September of this year, suddenly seems tiny in comparison.) Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the victims of the billion-user hack include FBI, CIA, NSA and White House workers. According to the California-based company, names, phone numbers, passwords and email addresses were stolen, but not bank and payment data. In a Tumblr post Tuesday, Yahoo's chief information security officer Bob Lord said the company has "taken steps to secure [the breached] user accounts" and is "working closely with law enforcement." Lord advised Yahoo users to visit the Safety Center page for important tips on how to stay safe online.
At the daily White House press briefing Thursday, spokesman Josh Earnest said the FBI is investigating the matter. Verizon said that it would evaluate the situation as Yahoo investigates and would review the "new development before reaching any final conclusions."
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