Yahoo to Confirm Massive Data Breach of Hundreds of Millions of Accounts

The announcement may have larger implications for the sale of Yahoo's business to Verizon

Yahoo to Confirm Massive Data Breach of Hundreds of Millions of Accounts
Image: Pixabay
September 22, 2016

Yahoo will shortly be confirming a huge data breach that exposed hundreds of millions of user accounts to a hacker, reports Recode.

The breach is both widespread and serious, but the specific number of accounts affected has not been released due to the probability of government investigations and legal actions.

Back in the summer, Yahoo stated that it was investigating a hack in which the perpetrators claimed that they were able to access the accounts of 200 million users and that one of the hackers was selling the account information online.

The confirmation—expected sometime this week—may also have larger implications for Yahoo's $4.8 billion sale of its core business to Verizon. The new owners could suffer countless headaches from the extent of the liability, and shareholders will probably be concerned that the sale price will be affected.

Although the deal is moving forward, Yahoo and Verizon cannot be combined until Yahoo shareholders and several regulatory agencies approve it. Representatives from both companies began to meet recently to examine Yahoo's business so that the acquisition would be smooth.

Yahoo became aware of the breach in August when an infamous cybercriminal known as "Peace" claimed to be selling the credentials--dating from 2012--of 200 million users on the dark web for more than $1,800. The information up for sale allegedly included usernames, passwords that could be decrypted easily, and such personal information as birth dates and other email addresses.

The company said it was "aware of the claim" at the time, but it declined to state whether or not it was legitimate, though it did claim to be investigating. However, it did not ask users to reset their passwords.

Confirmation of such a massive breach will be another mark against Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a highly-praised former executive from Google who has seen several declines in the company's business since her arrival in 2012. Her inability to get the company back on track or develop new products or services eventually led to its sale.

Update: Yahoo has confirmed that 500 million user accounts were hacked in 2014. User information stolen includes names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords, and, in some cases, security questions and answers. No payment data or bank account information was stolen.