- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yahoo is expected to announce that hackers have compromised the personal accounts of hundreds of millions of its users, tech website Recode reported Thursday.

Multiple sources have confirmed the breach to Recode, and its co-founder, tech columnist Kara Swisher, said she expects Yahoo will make a formal announcement within the week.

“While sources were unspecific about the extent of the incursion, since there is the likelihood of government investigations and legal action related to the breach, they noted that it is widespread and serious,” she wrote.

Recode’s claim comes on the heels of an article published last month by Motherboard in which it was reported that user credentials concerning upwards of 200 million Yahoo customers were being sold on the dark web. Yahoo said it was aware of the claim at the time, but neither confirmed not denied it had been the victim of a data breach.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source familiar with the matter told Recode this week that the apparent hack is more significant than earlier reports suggested.

“It’s as bad as that,” one source said of Motherboard’s report. “Worse, really.”

Motherboard was previously supplied with a small sampling of user credentials by a hacker who took credit for the breach, “Peace,” and said at least some of the data being sold on the dark web corresponded with legitimate Yahoo accounts. The hacker was attempting to sell the cache for the equivalent of around $1,860 in digital cryptocurrency at the time, and said the stolen records were from “2012 most likely” and contained the user names, encrypted passwords and personal details of millions of account holders.

“We are committed to protecting the security of our users’ information and we take any such claim very seriously,” Yahoo told Motherboard last month. “Our security team is working to determine the facts.”

Yahoo’s various internet services boasted a total of around 1 billion active monthly users as of Feb. 2016. It’s free email service, launched in 1997, had around 280 million active users as of 2015, The Guardian reported then.

Despite being valued at more than $125 billion in January 2000, Verizon Communications announced earlier this year that it plans to acquire Yahoo for a price of only $4.8 billion. Confirmation of the colossal breach will undoubtedly cause headaches for Verizon’s shareholders as the transaction nears being finalized, Recode predicted.

Yahoo had not yet responded to Recode’s request for comment as of early Thursday afternoon.

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