Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Former Yahoo CEO: Stronger Defense Couldn't Stop Breaches

Former Yahoo CEO: Stronger Defense Couldn't Stop Breaches

Congress grilled Mayer on why it took so long to let users know about the breach and why Yahoo! underestimated the number of accounts affected.

Mayer said Yahoo successfully defended itself against a barrage of state-sponsored and private hacks over the years and even employed hackers to test the company's defenses.

Mayer told the committee that Yahoo learned of a state-sponsored attack on its system in late 2014, and promptly reported it to law enforcement and notified users who were impacted by the hack. A Mayer spokesperson said Tuesday she was appearing voluntarily.

Mayer is part of a long line of company executives and former executives who have made their way to Capitol Hill in recent years to explain how their company fell victim to a cyberattack.

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Mayer testified along with interim Equifax CEO Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. and former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, as well as Verizon's chief privacy officer Karen Zacharia and Entrust Datacard CEO Todd Wilkinson.

They answered questions about the Equifax breach in September and Yahoo's in March.

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled "Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches", at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, in room Dirksen 106.

He said a federal law should replace that patchwork of laws.

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The current and former chief executives of credit bureau Equifax, which disclosed in September that a data breach affected as many as 145.5 million USA consumers, said they did not know who was responsible for the attack.

Some of the most pointed questioning came from Thune when he asked Mayer how the company for so long failed to recognize that data for all 3 billion of its user accounts were compromised.

During her tenure as CEO, she said, Yahoo roughly doubled its internal security staff and made significant investments in its leadership and team.

To this day, she said, security experts have been unable to identify the specific intrusions that led to the breaches: "We don't exactly understand how the act was perpetrated".

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