Yahoo’s sale of its core assets to Verizon Communications could be in peril after the internet giant disclosed a massive hack that may have impacted 1 billion people. In a press release late Wednesday (Dec. 14), Yahoo said it believes an “unauthorized third party” stole data associated with more than 1 billion user accounts in Aug. 2013. That’s in addition to the half-a-million customers whose data was hacked in another incident which Yahoo disclosed in September. The company believes the Aug. 2013 hack is “likely distinct” from the other incident. In November, Yahoo disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that law enforcement provided it with data files that a hacker claimed was Yahoo user data. Upon analyzing it, with the help of outside forensic experts, Yahoo has said it turned out to be the company’s data.
In addition to the new hack putting the deal in peril, Yahoo could be in a lot of trouble, Bloomberg reported, given that more than 150,000 U.S. government and military employees are among the Yahoo customers impacted by the breach. Bloomberg noted their names, passwords, telephone numbers, security questions, birth dates and backup email addresses are in the hands of the hacker or hackers. According to the report, the breach of the government and military employees’ data could enable foreign intelligence services to identify employees and get into their personal and work accounts. That, noted Bloomberg, could pose a national security threat. Meanwhile, Reuters reported, the White House said the FBI is investigating the latest breach reported by Yahoo.
For Verizon, the latest disclosure may be enough to give up on its hope of acquiring Yahoo to add to its purchase of AOL, which it made last year. After all, this data breach is double the size of the other one, which has delayed the closing of the deal. In a statement to the media, Verizon said: “As we’ve said all along, we will evaluate the situation as Yahoo continues its investigation. We will review the impact of this new development before reaching any final conclusions.”