Senators press Yahoo after company skips meeting about data breaches

Pablo Tucker
February 14, 2017

The Senators' note comes in the wake of back-to-back disclosures from Yahoo late last year revealing two massive data breaches almost two years after they were believed to have happened.

Yahoo reportedly canceled a congressional staff briefing scheduled for January 31, which the senators say triggered "concerns" about the whether Yahoo is willing to work openly with Congress.

Other questions regard what steps Yahoo has taken to restore the integrity and enhance the security of its systems in the wake of these incidents and whether Yahoo has properly identified and mitigated potential consumer harm associated with the data breaches.

One of their complaints, The Register suspects, will be familiar to anyone caught up in the company's 2013 and 2014 data breaches: "Despite several inquiries ... company officials have thus far been unable to provide answers to many basic questions about the reported breaches". In August or 2013, hackers obtained data that may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and security questions connected to up to 1 billion Yahoo accounts.

In the midst of this, the U.S. senators have said that protecting consumers "has been and will remain a key priority" to the commitees and appeared frustrated with the response from Mayer's Yahoo. Last September, six Democratic senators told Mayer the lengthy lag time between the 2014 data breach and its disclosure to consumers was "unacceptable". Yahoo's lack of responsiveness and cooperation, they said, was cause for concern.

Verizon's $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo might still be going forward as planned, but that doesn't mean the latter company is exempt from answering some tough questions about its massive data breaches: Lawmakers have given Yahoo until February 23 to answer for the company's actions related to the hacks.

The fallout from the cyberattacks has impacted an ongoing takeover deal with Verizon, which announced plans to purchase Yahoo's core business for a massive $4.8bn (£3.6bn) in July 2016.

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