More than 1 billion Yahoo customers may need to come up with some super creative new account passwords. The company revealed Wednesday 1 billion customers were impacted by a data breach in 2013, the largest known data breach in U.S. history.
In an email sent out to affected users, the company says it believes the breach began in August 2013. A third party stole data associated with users accounts, including passwords, contacts, birthdays, and answers to security questions. The FBI is helping to investigate the Yahoo breach, but the culprit has yet to be identified.
If you’re feeling some deja vu, here’s why: just a few months ago,Yahoo went public about another hack, which impacted 500 million accounts in 2014. That appears to have been a separate attack entirely, meaning as many as 1.5 billion Yahoo users have been effected in total.
The company said customers’ payment information was likely unaffected, as that information wasn’t stored in the system that was breached. However, it also now believes the attacker found a way to forge their way into users’ accounts without a password.
If any of that banking information was in your emails, you may be vulnerable to identity theft, but you can take a few steps to protect yourself:
Here’s what you should do if you were impacted by the Yahoo data breach:
Change Your Password(s)
Yahoo is already requiring ‘affected’ users to change their passwords, but even if you haven’t yet received an email instructing you do so, you should change yours.
If you use similar passwords or security questions and answers for any other online accounts, you should go ahead and change all of those too. It may be a pain to do so, but it’s worth not leaving yourself vulnerable to identity fraud.
Check Your Yahoo Account for Suspicious Activity
Do a thorough review of your Yahoo accounts and look for anything suspicious like emails you didn’t send or emails received from accounts that you may not recognize. Stay away from emails asking you to click on a link or download an attachment, as these could be phishing scams. Phishing scams gain access to your device or account to get additional information that can be used to access existing credit accounts or create new credit accounts. Finally, watch out for emails asking for your personal information or refer you to websites asking for your personal information. If you see those kind of emails, delete them immediately.
Set Up Two-Factor Authentication
This breach may be a great incentive for you to take a few minutes to set up double authentication via Yahoo’s Account Key tool. You won’t need your password at all anymore if you set this up. The tool sends a notification to your cell phone asking you to authorize account access each time an attempt is made to log into your account.
Check Your Credit Report
It’s a good idea to check your credit report for any suspicious activity whenever you feel your personal information may have been vulnerable. Request your free credit reports from all three bureaus via annualcreditreport.com and look over them for any accounts you may not recognize. It may also be beneficial to you to set up alerts on your report so that you are notified and asked to authorize any requests for your report from lenders. You can find more information about how to do that here.
Close Your Yahoo Account
If two breach disclosures is your breaking point, you could terminate your relationship with the email service provider. All you’d need to do is visit Yahoo’s account termination page, and follow the instructions. After Yahoo confirms your termination was successful, it’ll take about 90 days for your account data to be totally gone from the company’s system.
There’s never a good time for a data breach but Yahoo’s timing is especially unfortunate. The company is currently in the middle of a $4.83 billion acquisition deal with Verizon. However— as Bloomberg reported following the announcement — there may be some indication that this most recent announcement could delay the deal’s close or cancel it altogether. The recent disclosure might also lower Verizon’s asking price for the struggling email service provider.
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