business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

In yet another reminder of how porous the digital world can be, Yahoo yesterday announced that the personal account information of at least a half-billion of its users was hacked two years ago by what the company believes was a "state-sponsored actor," though the name of the country suspected was not identified.

It is described in the New York Times story as "the biggest known intrusion of one company’s computer network," and probably included information about Yahoo account holders that included "names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, encrypted passwords and, in some cases, security questions."

According to the Times story, which is worth reading here, "how the company discovered the hack nearly two years after the fact offered a glimpse at the complicated and mysterious world of the underground web.

"The hack of Yahoo, still one of the internet’s busiest sites with one billion monthly users, also has far-reaching implications for both consumers and one of America’s largest companies, Verizon Communications, which is in the process of acquiring Yahoo for $4.8 billion. Yahoo Mail is one of the oldest free email services, and many users have built their digital identities around it, from their bank accounts to photo albums and even medical information.

"Changing Yahoo passwords will be just the start for many users. They’ll also have to comb through other services to make sure passwords used on those sites aren’t too similar to what they were using on Yahoo. And if they weren’t doing so already, they’ll have to treat everything they receive online with an abundance of suspicion, in case hackers are trying to trick them out of even more information."

It is the kind of event that could have far-reaching implications, even if it is unlikely to have any sort of long-term impact on the growth of the digital economy. But it certainly is an Eye-Opener, and yet another reminder of how vigilant businesses and consumers must be as the digital realm continues to expand.
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