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Ex-CEO Blames Russians for Attacks on Yahoo Data

Marissa Mayer says she's sorry for hacks that affected all 3 billion Yahoo users
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2017 4:03 PM CST

(Newser) – "I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users,” Reuters quotes former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as saying. Mayer testified in front of the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday regarding two massive data breaches at Yahoo. In 2013, all 3 billion Yahoo accounts were hacked in what CNN reports was the largest data breach in history. Mayer says Yahoo, which originally said only 1 billion accounts were affected, didn't find out about the hack until it got data from the government in 2016 and still hasn't figured out how it happened, though she says Russian intelligence officers have launched attacks on Yahoo systems. A breach in 2014 affected 500 million Yahoo accounts and, in a first, led to the US government criminally charging two Russian spies for cyber crimes.

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One senator calls Wednesday's testimony, which also featured Equifax executives, "discouraging" because the companies don't appear to believe there's anything they can do to truly protect their users, CNBC reports. "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," Mayer says. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says enforcing punishments for data breaches on executives like Mayer could motivate companies to protect users' data. Mayer left Yahoo over the summer with nearly $260 million in stock and severance. "You harm consumers and you walk away with the amount of money that a small city or county uses for their annual operating budget," Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii says, calling it "unfathomable." (Read more Marissa Mayer stories.)

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