- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2014

Yahoo confirmed a number of customer email accounts and passwords have been hacked, but company heads won’t disclose just how many have been affected by the breach.

Yahoo is the second-largest email provider in the world, with 273 million account holders — 81 million of whom reside in the United States, The Associated Press reported.

In a blog post, Yahoo Inc. said: “The information sought in the attack seems to be names and email addresses from the affected accounts’ most recent sent emails.”

Data experts say that means the hackers could be trying to discover other email addresses as a means of sending spam, AP reported. The hackers steal real names from the Yahoo sent folders to send their scam messages, which then appear more legitimate to the recipients.

Yahoo’s data breach is just the latest in a line of recent hacks. Between 70 million and 110 million Target retail shoppers were recently affected by a credit- and debit-card numbers’ theft that occurred at the card-swiping machines in the stores. Neiman Marcus announced shortly after the Target attack that its stores had been struck by a data breach, also.

Meanwhile, this is the second data fiasco to hit Yahoo in just a few short weeks. In December, the company’s mail service suffered an outage that was so widespread, executives were forced to send out a statement of apology.

In this week’s breach, Yahoo said it has “implemented additional measures” to stymie another attack from occurring, AP reported.