Former Yahoo CEO: Stronger Defense Couldn't Stop Breaches

Marissa Mayer yahoo

The hearing will feature testimony from a current and a former official who worked on the response to Yahoo!'s 2013 data breach, which the company announced only last month affected all 3 billion user accounts, as well as the current and former CEO of Equifax, which suffered a 2017 breach reported to affect approximately 145 million individuals, including sensitive personal and financial information.

Those interviewed by the committee included Interim Equifax CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., former Equifax chief Richard Smith and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The current and former chief executives of credit bureau Equifax, which disclosed in September that a data breach affected as many as 145.5 million US consumers, said they did not know who was responsible for the attack.

Mayer noted that after Yahoo discovered the first hacks in late 2016, Yahoo required all of its users to change their passwords if they hadn't, and scrapped old security questions.

Verizon, the largest USA wireless operator, acquired most of Yahoo Inc's assets in June, the same month Mayer stepped down.

Congress grilled Mayer on why it took so long to let users know about the breach and why Yahoo! underestimated the number of accounts affected.

Mayer told the committee that Yahoo fell victim to the breaches despite devoting substantial resources to security in an attempt to stay ahead of sophisticated and constantly evolving threats.

Senator Bill Nelson said "only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will help incentivise companies to properly safeguard consumer information".

"We verified that it came from Yahoo, but we don't exactly understand how the act was perpetrated", she told the committee.

While testifying, the 42-year-old said she wants to "sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users.' She said that the company defended itself against a barrage of state-sponsored and private hacks over the years".

"Massive data breaches have touched the vast majority of American consumers", said Thune.

Mayer volunteered to testify on data breaches, but only after being subpoenaed.

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