500 Million Yahoo Accounts Hacked

Posted: Sep 23 2016, 12:11am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 23 2016, 2:15pm CDT, in News | Technology News

 

500 Million Yahoo Accounts Hacked
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Joining the list of global companies who have faced users' data breach in the recent past, a Yahoo investigation has confirmed that at least 500 million user accounts were hacked in late 2014 which, it believes, was a "state-sponsored" attack.

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers," Yahoo revealed in a statement late Thursday.

"The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected," the Sunnyvale, California-based company added.

According to Yahoo's Chief Information Security Officer Bob Lord, the information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014.

Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo's network.

Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter. The breach could also impact Yahoo's $4.8 billion sale of its core business to Verizon.

Yahoo has notified potentially affected users and has taken steps to secure their accounts.

These steps include invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account and asking potentially affected users to change their passwords.

Yahoo has recommended that users who have not changed their passwords since 2014 to do so.

"Yahoo encourages users to review their online accounts for suspicious activity and to change their password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which they use the same or similar information used for their Yahoo account," the statement read.

The company further recommends that users avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails and that they be cautious of unsolicited communications that ask for personal information.

Additionally, Yahoo has asked users to consider using Yahoo Account Key, a simple authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password altogether.

Online intrusions and thefts by state-sponsored actors have become increasingly common across the technology industry including professional social network LinkedIn, micro-blogging website Twitter and file hosting service Dropbox, to name a few.

Yahoo and other companies have launched programs to detect and notify users when a company strongly suspects that a state-sponsored actor has targeted an account.

Since the inception of Yahoo's program in December 2015, independent of the recent investigation, approximately 10,000 users have received such a notice.

Additionall Material:

Read the full Yahoo Statement about the giantic hacking attack below.

An Important Message About Yahoo User Security

By Bob Lord, CISO

A recent investigation by Yahoo 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 account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected. Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo’s network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.

We are taking action to protect our users:

   We are notifying potentially affected users. The content of the email Yahoo is sending to those users will be available at  https://yahoo.com/security-notice-content beginning at 11:30 am (PDT).

    We are asking potentially affected users to promptly change their passwords and adopt alternate means of account verification.

    We invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers so they cannot be used to access an account.

    We are recommending that all users who haven’t changed their passwords since 2014 do so.

    We continue to enhance our systems that detect and prevent unauthorized access to user accounts.

    We are working closely with law enforcement on this matter.

We encourage our users to follow these security recommendations:

Change your password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for your Yahoo account.

    Review your accounts for suspicious activity. 

    Be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a web page asking for personal information.

    Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails.

Additionally, please consider using Yahoo Account Key, a simple authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password altogether.

An increasingly connected world has come with increasingly sophisticated threats. Industry, government and users are constantly in the crosshairs of adversaries. Through strategic proactive detection initiatives and active response to unauthorized access of accounts, Yahoo will continue to strive to stay ahead of these ever-evolving online threats and to keep our users and our platforms secure.

For more information about this issue and our security resources, please visit the Yahoo Security Issue FAQs page, https://yahoo.com/security-update, which will be up beginning at 12pm (PDT).

This story may contain affiliate links.

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