Yahoo's Mayer points to Russians in data-breach apology

09 November, 2017, 01:27 | Author: Lester Mason
  • Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer    
   Matt Winkelmeyer  Getty Images for Glamour

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer and ousted Equifax CEO Richard Sherman appeared before Congress on Wednesday, offering explanations and apologies for how billions of user accounts and identities were disseminated through hacks at their companies.

For Yahoo, lawmakers are probing a 2013 breach, which the company reported in December of 2016 as it proceeded with its plans to merge with Verizon.

But under questioning from the Senate Commerce Committee, she also admitted that Yahoo still doesn't know exactly how hackers managed to steal the usernames and passwords of all of its registered users.

In the end, she said "Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users" data'.

Although Mayer testified that the 2014 breach was state-sponsored, Yahoo still hasn't concluded who was responsible for the 2013 hack. She also said business and government must work together to tackle this problem, including working to enact a national data breach notification law. "It's going to take an attitude change among companies such as yours that we've got to go to extreme limits to protect our customers' privacy".

In March, federal prosecutors charged two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers with masterminding the 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts, the first time the USA government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber crimes.

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They answered questions about the Equifax breach in September and Yahoo's in March.

Those remarks prompted Committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., to ask Mayer why, despite these investments, Yahoo failed to detect the massive 2013 breach for three years.

Senator Bill Nelson said "only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will help incentivise companies to properly safeguard consumer information".

'A single federal standard would ensure all consumers are treated the same with regard to notification of data breaches that might cause them harm, ' Thune said.

The Senate Commerce Committee took the unusual step of subpoenaing Mayer to testify on October 25 after a representative for Mayer declined multiple requests for her voluntarily testimony.

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