A hacking scandal has come to light that may have a significant impact on the impending Yahoo-Verizon merger. In 2014, 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked, consequently exposing email addresses, passwords, and personal information and leaving half a billion people vulnerable to identity theft.
Though it has not yet been confirmed exactly when Yahoo officials first discovered the security breach, the public was made aware of the issue just last Thursday, September 22. Verizon executives learned the news only several days before it was released to the media, causing many to wonder how this messy situation might affect Verizon’s decision to move forward with their $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s business.
As of right now, Verizon has not given any indication of whether or not the breach will hinder the deal. Tim Armstrong, chief executive of Verizon-unit AOL said in an interview on CNBC that Verizon is working with Yahoo to investigate the scope of the hack.
Yahoo said on Friday that “Our investigation into this matter is ongoing and the issues are complex.”
The company suspects that the hack was performed by a group acting on behalf of a foreign entity, but did not identify which country it believes is involved.
This incident may not affect the merger between Verizon and Yahoo, but it should certainly be a reminder to all Internet users that cyber security is not foolproof. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there is a one-in-33 chance that you will have your identity stolen within the next year.
“Once you have this Yahoo email address, a lot of those link to a LinkedIn profile,” said Christopher Ahlberg, chief executive of the threat intelligence company Recorded Future. “You start logging into all these places, pretty quickly you can take over a person’s online persona. You could have a field day with this.”