Earlier this week Yahoo confirmed that more than 500 million user accounts had had personal information stolen in a Yahoo hack that occurred sometime in late 2014.
The stolen information includes data such as usernames, email addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth. The Yahoo hack did not take data such as passwords, credit card data or bank account information, but the leaked data could still allow outsiders to access other user accounts.
Experts say that this could be the biggest hack to date. In comparison in 2012, Linkedin had a hack that affected 117 million accounts and earlier this year it was announced that 360 million MySpace accounts had been comprised.
According to Norway-based cyber security advisor Per Thorsheim, the hack “will cause ripples online for years to come.”
Yahoo users aren’t the only ones who are just finding out about this breach, Yahoo’s future parent company Verizon found out just two days ago. This data breach could have an impact on the impending $5 billion dollar sale of Yahoo’s core business to US telecom company Verizon. The deal is supposed to close in the first half of 2017.
A spokesperson for Verizon told CNN that “Within the last two days, we were notified of Yahoo’s security incident. We understand that Yahoo is conducting an active investigation of this matter, but we otherwise have limited information and understanding of the impact.”
The Yahoo hack could create a headache for both companies, including damaging press, police investigations, scrutiny from regulators and user outrage, as well as complicating the billion-dollar deal at hand.
If you are worried about the security of your online data following the Yahoo hack, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from hackers and secure your online information.
Tips to protect yourself online:
- Change your password often
- Don’t use the same password twice – if hackers get the password for one of your accounts they can try to use that password to access other accounts
- Pick better passwords so you can avoid password cracking – consider using a phrase instead of a single word
- Use a password manager – strong passwords can be hard to remember, so using a password manager like LastPass can help
- Update your security questions – if you use the same security questions for multiple accounts then those can also be hacked and used to steal your personal information online
- Two-factor authentication – adding a second type of authentication, like a one-time code sent over text message or generated by an app, can greatly secure your online accounts