Congress grills former Equifax, Yahoo CEOs over identity data breaches

Marissa Mayer

Yahoo and U.S. federal agents have blamed a separate 2014 company data breach involving 500 million accounts on Russian state-sponsored hackers.

The 42-year-old, who testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, said the thefts occurred during her almost five-year tenure and she wants to 'sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users'.

"As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologise to each and every one of our users", she told the Senate Commerce Committee, testifying alongside the interim and former CEOs of Equifax Inc and a senior Verizon Communications Inc executive.

"Even robust defenses and prosecutors aren't sufficient to protect against the state-sponsored attack, especially when they're extremely sophisticated and persistent", Marissa Mayer testified. Initially, Yahoo estimated that a billion users had been affected, but in October 2017, it acknowledged that hackers actually compromised three billion accounts. A Mayer spokesperson said Tuesday she was appearing voluntarily. "It's going to take an attitude change among companies such as yours that we've got to go to extreme limits to protect our customers' privacy".




Mayer was a reluctant witness. Richard Blumenthal of CT says enforcing punishments for data breaches on executives like Mayer could motivate companies to protect users' data.

"Unfortunately, while all our measures helped Yahoo successfully defend against the barrage of attacks by both private and state-sponsored hackers, Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users' data".

A breach in 2014 affected 500 million Yahoo accounts and, in a first, led to the United States government criminally charging two Russian spies for cyber crimes. So far, no nation-state connection to the much larger 2013 breach has been revealed.

They answered questions about the Equifax breach in September and Yahoo's in March. The company adopted a comprehensive information security program created to enhance its policies, procedures and controls based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's cybersecurity framework, she said. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today convened a hearing titled, "Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches". Indeed, the former CEO said, much of the facts behind the breaches remain shrouded in mystery.

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