Yahoo headquarters. Photo/Courtesy
By PATRICK MAYOYO
Hackers in August 2013 stole data from Yahoo account holders making it the second data breach in recent times from the one the company disclosed on September 22, 2016.
The 3-year-old security breach enabled a hacker to compromise more than 1 billion user accounts, breaking the company’s own humiliating record for the biggest security breach in history.
A notice issued by Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer, Bob Lord, today to the owners of the affected accounts says that the stolen user account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.
This writer was among those affected. A notice dispatched to him from Yahoo says in part:
“Dear Patrick, we are writing to inform you about a data security issue that may involve your Yahoo account information. We have taken steps to secure your account and are working closely with law enforcement.
It adds: “Not all of these data elements may have been present for your account. The investigation indicates that the stolen information did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information. Payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system we believe was affected.”
The email service firm says law enforcement provided Yahoo in November 2016 with data files that a third party claimed was Yahoo user data which they analyzed with the assistance of outside forensic experts and found that it appeared to be Yahoo user data.
Based on further analysis of this data by the forensic experts, we believe an unauthorized third party, in August 2013, stole data associated with a broader set of user accounts, including yours.
“We have not been able to identify the intrusion associated with this theft. We believe this incident is likely distinct from the incident we disclosed on September 22, 2016,” the Yahoo notice of the data breach says.
The company says it is taking action to protect its users. The measures they have taken include requiring potentially affected users to change their passwords.
They are also invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account and they are continuously enhancing their safeguards and systems that detect and prevent unauthorized access to user accounts.
They are asking Yahoo account users to follow a number of security recommendations that include change their passwords and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for your Yahoo account.
Yahoo account users should review all their accounts for suspicious activity and be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a web page asking for personal information.
Yahoo account users should also 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 on Yahoo altogether,” the Yahoo notice of the data breach says.
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