The Biggest Breach?

The Biggest Breach? By Sunil Jagani












Yesterday, Yahoo announced that hackers had swiped personal information associated with at least half a billion accounts, marking the biggest data breach in history.  This hack, which occurred two years ago, revealed the names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and more.  Yahoo claims that this hack was “state-sponsored”, but didn’t identify which country was behind it.  Although Yahoo isn’t as widely-used or well-respected as Google, it’s nonetheless a major digital giant, claiming 1 billion monthly active users over a variety of online services.  These services span finance, online shopping and fantasy football, with a mail service that has about 225 million monthly active users.  Yahoo has urged users to change their passwords if they haven’t since 2014.  

This hack reminds up how widespread hacking is, highlighting the vulnerability of passwords.  Cybersecurity specialists recommend using a different password for each account you have online, while some experts are working on alternatives to passwords, such as biometrics.  Hackers know that consumers use the same passwords, so leaked passwords are particularly dangerous.  

This incident comes as Verizon is in the process of buying Yahoo for $4.83 billion.  They were notified of the breach within the past two days, but had “limited information and understanding of the impact”.  There’s a chance that this could jeopardize the sale, but how Verizon will react remains to be seen.  According to B. Riley & Co analyst Sameet Sinha, this breach most likely won’t affect the sale.  

With this announcement, the big thing on everybody’s mind was that why it took so long for Yahoo to discover a breach that happened in 2014.  Even as data breaches have become more and more common, Yahoo’s recent hack stands out as the largest-ever breach to be publicly disclosed.  Yahoo has taken steps to protect its users, such as invalidating security questions and answers, but the real risk here lies in hackers using the passwords on other sites.  After such massive data breaches, most Americans lose trust in companies, so this is going to set back the digital giant.  

If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!