200 Million Yahoo User Accounts Hacked

The latest massive data breach, one which may or may not be blamed on Putin, came overnight when ReCode reported that Yahoo is poised to confirm that a hacker has exposed approximately 200 million user accounts.

As Recode adds, while sources were unspecific about the extent of the incursion, since there is the likelihood of government investigations and legal action related to the breach, they noted that it is widespread and serious. According to the source, earlier this summer, Yahoo said it was investigating a data breach in which hackers claimed to have access to 200 million user accounts and was selling them online. “It’s as bad as that,” said one source. “Worse, really.”

The hack became known in August when an infamous cybercriminal named “Peace” said on a website that he was selling credentials of 200 million Yahoo users from 2012 on the dark web for just over $1,800. The data allegedly included user names, easily decrypted passwords, personal information like birth dates and other email addresses.

The announcement, which is expected to be formally announced this week, could not have come at a worse time for Yahoo which is in the process of closing the $4.8 billion sale of Yahoo’s core business — which is at the core of this hack — to Verizon. Recode notes that "the scale of the liability could be large and bring untold headaches to the new owners. Shareholders are likely to worry that it could lead to an adjustment in the price of the transaction."

That deal is now moving to completion, but the companies cannot be integrated until it is approved by a number of regulatory agencies, as well as Yahoo shareholders. But representatives of Verizon and Yahoo have started meeting recently to review the Yahoo business, so that the acquisition will run smoothly once complete.

At the time of the Verizon deal announcement, Yahoo said it was “aware of the claim,” but the company declined to say if it was legitimate and said that it was investigating the information. But it did not issue a call for a password reset to users. Now, said sources, Yahoo might have to, although it will be a case of too little, too late.

As Recode concludes, the confirmation of such an extensive hack is the latest blemish on the record of CEO Marissa Mayer, a vaunted former Google exec, who has presided over numerous declines in the business since she arrived four years ago. Her inability to turn Yahoo around or innovate any new products eventually led to the sale.

Perhaps the only silver lining from the hack is the confirmation that Yahoo still has some 200 million users.