Former Yahoo CEO: Stronger Defense Couldn't Stop Breaches

Marissa Mayer yahoo

Yahoo is still in the dark about who might have been behind the 2013 data breach that stole information on 3 billion user accounts, according to former company CEO Marissa Mayer.

The current and former chief executives of credit bureau Equifax, which disclosed in September that a data breach affected as many as 145.5 million USA consumers, said they did not know who was responsible for the attack.

During the hearing, Thune questioned Yahoo!'s former CEO Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!'s security collapses and its failure to effectively respond to those collapses in a timely matter. It's also implemented new measures to protect the affected accounts. Initially, Yahoo estimated that a billion users had been affected, but in October 2017, it acknowledged that hackers actually compromised three billion accounts.

While testifying, the 42-year-old said she wants to "sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users.' She said that the company defended itself against a barrage of state-sponsored and private hacks over the years".

Lawmakers said rigorous security rules are needed to counter the hacks and that companies need "extreme" limits to protect customers' privacy.

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She was joined by the interim CEO of Equifax, Paulino Barros, Jr., who took over after hackers exposed the personal information of 145 million Americans. The executives remained mute. After reportedly declining a request to testify, the panel issued a subpoena to compel her to appear (see Life After Yahoo: Mayer Forced to Testify Before Senate).

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 United States government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber crimes. So far, no nation-state connection to the much larger 2013 breach has been revealed.

She said Yahoo still has not been able to identify the intrusion that led to that theft.

"Right now there's just not enough of a disincentive to hack", she said.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the committee chairman, said 48 states have separate laws governing how and when companies must notify consumers of a breach. Mayer answered that such attacks are complex and persistent and the understanding of the facts behind them evolve over time.

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