Yahoo! the once and original Internet giant, announced that its email systems have been hacked.
Yahoo! confirmed the details of the 2014 breach months after reports leaked of a major hack. According to Yahoo!’s investigation “certain user account information was stolen” and the attack came from “what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.” For the laymen that means another country did it or paid for it.
In a statement Yahoo! said, “Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo! believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts were stolen.” Experts believes that the hack is possibly the largest-ever breach from a single organization topping the MySpace hack affecting 360 million users earlier this year.
Yahoo! was once thee giant of the Internet and is still the third largest provider of email services. However the company has fallen in value from a one time high of $100 billion to its current value of less that $5 billion. This massive email hack comes after Yahoo! agreed to a deal to sell its core Internet business to telecommunications giant Verizon for $4.8 billion, bringing a sad end to more than two decades as an independent company.
Why is this hack of Yahoo! email systems so important? The stolen information may include users names, email address, birth dates, and scrambled passwords, along with encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. According to computer security analyst Graham Cluley, the stolen Yahoo! data “could be useful ammunition for any hacker attempting to break into Yahoo! accounts, or interested in exploring whether users might have used the same security questions/answers to protect themselves elsewhere on the web.”
What can you do?
Change your passwords immediately. Never, ever use the same password for more than one site. Doing that allows hackers to gain access to your other accounts across the web. Change your other passwords too and remember to change your passwords at least every six months.
Can’t remember passwords? Try a password manager program like 1Password or LastPass. Password managers generate highly secure passwords that are a potent mix of unintelligible letters and numbers. Such passwords are extremely difficult to guess. These password managers work with Apple, Android and Windows operating systems.
Use two factor authentication. Yahoo!’s two-factor authentication security measure means you have to have your smartphone close by when logging into your Yahoo! account.
Yahoo! also offers its “Account Key” feature, which replaces written passwords with a smartphone app.
Remember you are responsible for your own security and safety online. Don’t depend on anyone else.