Former Yahoo CEO apologises for data breaches, blames Russians

Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress

The hearing will feature testimony from a current and a former official who worked on the response to Yahoo!'s 2013 data breach, which the company announced only last month affected all 3 billion user accounts, as well as the current and former CEO of Equifax, which suffered a 2017 breach reported to affect approximately 145 million individuals, including sensitive personal and financial information.

Yahoo! didn't disclose the breach until 2016 and initially said one billion accounts were affected. Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which held the hearing, said: "That's an admission you are not protected against state actors", prompting the senator to ask what Yahoo is doing about it.

"These thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users", Mayer said, according to CNet.

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"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.

Mayer left her position in January with a $23million severance package along with $186million in stock options after hackers stole information from billions of Yahoo users including names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and security questions and answers.

Lawmakers said rigorous security rules are needed to counter the hacks and that companies need "extreme" limits to protect customers' privacy.

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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. Richard Blumenthal of CT says enforcing punishments for data breaches on executives like Mayer could motivate companies to protect users' data. Representing the company are Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr, its interim chief executive, and Richard Smith, who led Equifax at the time of the intrusion. So far, no nation-state connection to the much larger 2013 breach has been revealed.

"Right now there's just not enough of a disincentive to hack", she said.

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