Former Yahoo CEO apologises for data breach, blames Russians

Marissa Mayer yahoo

Yahoo's Mayer points to Russians in data-breach apology

While testifying to lawmakers on Wednesday, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer apologized for the Yahoo hacks and claims that no company is immune from them.

Mayer told the committee that Yahoo learned of a state-sponsored attack on its system in late 2014, and promptly reported it to law enforcement and notified users who were impacted by the hack.

Yahoo! didn't disclose the breach until 2016 and initially said one billion accounts were affected.

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'.

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Verizon acquired most of Yahoo's assets in June, the same month Mayer stepped down.

It disclosed in October that a 2013 Yahoo data breach affected all 3 billion of its accounts, compared with an estimate of over 1 billion disclosed in December.

A breach in 2014 affected 500 million Yahoo accounts and, in a first, led to the United States government criminally charging two Russian spies for cyber crimes.

"The threat from state-sponsored attacks has changed the playing field so dramatically that today I believe all companies, even the most well-defended ones, could fall victim to these crimes", she said. She also said business and government must work together to tackle this problem, including working to enact a national data breach notification law.

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Mayer testified along with interim Equifax CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. and former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, as well as Verizon's chief privacy officer Karen Zacharia and Entrust Datacard CEO Todd Wilkinson.

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

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.

Nevertheless, Yahoo still does not fully understand "how the act was perpetrated", Mayer admitted.

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The Senate Commerce Committee took the unusual step of subpoenaing Mayer to testify on October 25 after a representative for Mayer declined multiple requests for her voluntarily testimony.

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