Data Breach Concerns
Data breaches have been plentiful over the past few years, and companies have lost millions of dollars and the faith of their users. However, the biggest in history may have just been discovered. Yahoo recently announced that they underwent a major data breach that will have some serious implications.
It is believed that the attack occurred sometime in 2013, and it is said that over 1 billion user accounts were compromised. It is believed the hackers used forged cookies to get into accounts without a password.
“It’s the largest breach on record, another 1 billion accounts compromised — according to reports, “names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers” were stolen.”
This was the description of the hack from one of the leaders in the space of data breaches and information security, Kevin O’Brien. O’Brien is the founder and CEO of GreatHorn, which is a company that helps businesses secure and protect their most sensitive information. He spoke to CloudTweaks about the most recent Yahoo breach.
In his feedback to the massive breach, O’Brien also got into how he was very surprised to find out what kind of protection Yahoo was using: “It’s surprising that Yahoo was storing passwords with MD5 hashing as their primary mechanism of protection. It’s not an encryption algorithm, and was very visibly exploited back in the summer of 2012 when the Flamer malware tool took advantage of the fact that Microsoft’s certificate signing tools for some version of TS relied on MD5 — meaning that it was trivial to make the malware look like it was officially from Microsoft…”
The fact that this protection mechanism had already been taken advantage of and was still being used by Yahoo is concerning. Also, MD5 hashes can easily be looked up online to find out the passwords with ease. It is shocking that a company the size of Yahoo still had security measures in place that were known to be largely unsecure.
Unfortunately, Yahoo has also announced that the attack might have gone even deeper than just accounts having their emails, names and other information compromised. The source code of Yahoo has been accessed, and this is a big concern for O’Brien as it could have some major implications.
“Secondly, Yahoo also announced that their source code had been illicitly accessed — also a huge issue, and potentially even more concerning than an email password breach, because the downstream impact may be that multiple parts of the Yahoo technology stack will be (or have already been) compromised.”
This is just the most recent breach in the company’s long list of problems with security. Back in 2014, 500 million accounts were compromised and this wasn’t announced until only a few months ago.
Yahoo has also claimed that they do not know who is responsible for the hack and being that it took place years ago, they may never find out. A person’s data and personal information is some of the most important things they own. Companies to ensure that security is their number one priority, but too many times we see companies pinch pennies on security costs and end up getting hacked and losing much more than they would have spent to just protect the information in the first place.
Unfortunately, cyber-crime is seemingly always on the rise and it is only a matter of time before more data breaches occur, with potentially even more compromised accounts as this. Companies need to begin to start taking infosec more seriously because until that happens, these massive data breaches will continue to occur.
By Kale Havervold
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