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Yahoo reports biggest data breach, 500 million accounts hacked in 2014 attack

The company could be worried by the impact the data breach would have on its $4.83 billion cash deal with Verizon Communications. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION San Francisco, CA, United States Sep 23, 2016, 01.02 AM (IST)
Yahoo Inc on Thursday said investigations into the world's biggest known cyber breach revealed that the attack on its network in 2014  may have been "state sponsored."

At least 500 million of its accounts were hacked worldwide and the probe concluded that "certain user account information was stolen."

"Online intrusions and thefts by state-sponsored actors have become increasingly common across the technology industry," Yahoo said in a release.

"Yahoo  and other companies have launched programs to detect and notify users when a company strongly suspects that a state-sponsored actor has targeted an account."

Cyber thieves may have stolen names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted passwords, the company said. 

But some of the most valuable data including unprotected passwords, payment card data and bank account information did not appear to have been compromised.

The US internet giant said it is working closely with law enforcement on this matter. 

Yahoo asked affected users to change passwords and recommended anyone who hasn't done so since 2014 take the same precaution.

Computer security analyst Graham Cluley said 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."

The company is under pressure to shore up its flagging fortunes. It agreed to $4.83 billion cash sale of its internet business to Verizon Communications Inc. 

It was not immediately clear if the data breach could impact the closing of the deal or the price agreed to by Verizon.

Verizon said in a statement that it was reviewing the new information. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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