Yahoo said on Wednesday it had discovered yet another major cyber-attack, with more than 1 billion user accounts said to have been comprised in August 2013, making this the largest data breach in history.

The number of affected accounts is nearly double that of the 2014 data breach they disclosed back in September, blaming hackers working on behalf of a government. Now Yahoo believes these two hacks are connected and that the breaches are ‘state-sponsored’.

According to Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer, Bob Lord, hackers used ‘forged cookies’- pieces of code that stay in the user’s browser cache allowing a website to not require a login with every visit. Lord added that these cookies “could allow an intruder to access users’ accounts without a password” by misidentifying anyone using them as the owner of an email account.

The compromised information may have included the names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, hashed passwords, and in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers of Yahoo account holders.

This series of data breach revelations is not looking good for Yahoo’s acquisition deal by Verizon. In a SEC filing from November, Yahoo claimed, “There is no assurance that the sale transaction will be consummated in a timely manner or at all.”

By adopting a layered approach to security, the attack surface can be better minimized. Systems that are properly hardened in line with configuration checklists like those from the Center for Information Security CIS will mitigate these vulnerabilities. But even with an armory of security products, you can never guarantee that a breach won’t happen. That’s why Host Intrusion Detection technology is so important- if and when your defenses are breached, you’re alerted and able to take action before data theft and damage goes beyond repair.


Read this article on The Guardian



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