Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Congress grills former Equifax, Yahoo CEOs over identity data breaches

Former Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer will be quizzed by US senators Marissa Mayer was CEO of Yahoo from 2012 until it was formally broken up earlier this year
Heather Davidson | 09 November, 2017, 01:25

The former CEO of Yahoo, which had 3 billion records exposed in a 2013 data breach and another 500,000 in a separate 2014 breach, testified at a Senate hearing that it's tough for any corporation to defend against cyberattacks backed by nation-states. Mayer says Yahoo, which originally said only 1 billion accounts were affected, didn't find out about the hack until it got data from the government in 2016 and still hasn't figured out how it happened, though she says Russian intelligence officers have launched attacks on Yahoo systems.

The 42-year-old, who testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, said the thefts occurred during her almost five-year tenure and she wants to 'sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users'.

"Even robust defenses and prosecutors aren't sufficient to protect against the state-sponsored attack, especially when they're extremely sophisticated and persistent", Marissa Mayer testified.

Congress grilled Mayer on why it took so long to let users know about the breach and why Yahoo! underestimated the number of accounts affected.

"Yahoo worked closely with law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who were ultimately able to identify and expose the hackers responsible for the attacks", she said.

Lawmakers said rigorous security rules are needed to counter the hacks and that companies need "extreme" limits to protect customers' privacy. Representing the company are Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr, its interim chief executive, and Richard Smith, who led Equifax at the time of the intrusion.

Mayer was a reluctant witness.

Mayer volunteered to testify on data breaches, but only after being subpoenaed.

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

Mayer joined former and current CEOs of Equifax in testifying before the committee examining recent data breaches.

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

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.

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