The integrity of past and current Yahoo users’ personal information has been severely compromised with the news that as many as 500-million user accounts have been leaked.
An investigation by the company has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.
The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.
The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected.
Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500-million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo’s network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.
Yahoo has advises users who might be affected and has taken steps to secure their accounts. These include invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account and asking potentially affected users to change their passwords. Yahoo is also recommending that users who haven’t changed their passwords since 2014 do so.
Users who might be affected will receive an e-mail warning them of the issue, and offering advice on how to deal with it. Users should be wary of clicking on links in any mails, or downloading attachment. Authentic mails from Yahoo will never ask for personal information, and will include the Yahoo icon when viewed through the Yahoo website or Yahoo Mail app.
The company has also encouraged users to review their online accounts for suspicious activity and to change their password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which they use the same or similar information used for their Yahoo account. It also advises that users avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails and that they be cautious of unsolicited communications that ask for personal information.
Yahoo is also suggesting that users to consider using Yahoo Account Key, an authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password altogether.