Former Yahoo CEO apologizes for data breaches, blames Russians

Former Yahoo CEO apologizes for data breaches, blames Russians

Mayer and Smith were flanked by officials from their former companies, as Congress sought to get to the bottom of how three billion global user accounts at Yahoo and 146 million American Social Security numbers and more at Equifax were stolen by hackers. Verizon closed its $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo in June, when Mayer resigned from the company.

"We describe this as arms race, hackers become ever more sophisticated and we have to become sophisticated in turn", Mayer said.

"As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users", Mayer said. "The DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation praised Yahoo for our extensive cooperation and early, proactive engagement with law enforcement", Mayer said. But the suspected involvement of Russian agents in its breach shows companies still face a formidable challenge, she said.

In the end, she said "Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users" data'.

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Mayer testified along with interim Equifax CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. and former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, as well as Verizon's chief privacy officer Karen Zacharia and Entrust Datacard CEO Todd Wilkinson.

She told lawmakers that the threat from state-sponsored hackers has changed the playing field so dramatically that even the best-defended companies can fall victim.

Yahoo was also breached in 2014 in an attack revealed in September 2016 that affected at least 500 million Yahoo accounts. "This hearing will give the public the opportunity to hear from those in charge, at the time major breaches occurred and during the subsequent response efforts, at two large companies who lost personal consumer data to nefarious actors". Florida Sen. Bill Nelson asked Mayer.

The hearing comes after Equifax said failure to install a security update may have led to exposure of information of more than 145 million people in the U.S. and nearly 700,000 people in the UK.

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She said Yahoo still has not been able to identify the intrusion that led to that theft.

On Wednesday, several senators said there should be more financial incentive for companies to prevent against hacks, as well as laws that have "teeth" when it comes to notifying consumers of breaches.

Nevertheless, Yahoo still does not fully understand "how the act was perpetrated", Mayer admitted.

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