Friday, 23 September 2016

Affected by the Yahoo hack? Here’s what you need to do:

If you have a Yahoo account, you should act fast. Just yesterday it was confirmed that hackers stole the personal data of half a billion Yahoo accounts in the most recent cyber-catastrophe. 

Details, including names, email addresses, phone numbers and security questions were stolen from the company’s network in late 2014. It's also now been revealed that passwords were also taken, but in a “hashed” form, with the company reporting they believe the financial information held with it remains safe, unless the hashed passwords are decrypted.


Yahoo believe this was a state-sponsored act – an increasingly common scapegoat following cyber hacks today. Although Yahoo are currently notifying those potentially affected by the hack, as a precaution you can take steps now to protect your data.

Below, we will identify these steps in order to secure your information now and in the future.

This is what you need to do:


Take back your account: If your Yahoo account has been compromised, the first thing you need to do is take it back. Hackers, may have also gone after your linked accounts so check them also. Below are a series of links to the most common social and mail platforms where you can take back your account.
·         Yahoo
·         Apple
·         Facebook
·         Google
·         Microsoft
·         Twitter

Report it to the police: If you believe you have been hacked and are now the victim of identity theft or fraud, file a report with Action Fraud

Change your passwords and security questions: Even if you haven't been hacked, change your password and security questions immediately. This is especially important if your email is connected in any way to your bank or a PayPal account. 

Additionally, you should look to change the passwords in any other account that uses the same or similar security information. This ensures hackers cannot access other accounts through your Yahoo information. It is also sensible to check your password recovery settings and ensure they have not been changed to a third party. 

Tell everyone you know: In this situation it is a common tactic for hackers to target friends and family of compromised accounts to extract financial gains. So spread the news to your friends and family. Not only will this help them inform you if they see unusual activity, but it may also spare them falling victim to a similar hack.

Be wary of emails from Yahoo: Now is the perfect time for cyber criminals to strike through a phishing attack. Avoid downloading or clicking links in any emails coming from Yahoo. Almost all malware is installed unknowingly by the victims themselves. 

Update your security settings and run a security scan: Make sure you run a virus scan and have the most recent security updates on your operating system. If you don't have an anti-virus application, invest in a high quality one like McAfee or Norton Antivirus. This is something you should be doing as best practice regardless of the issue.

Continue to review your activity: Just because you’ve gotten your account back, doesn’t mean you’re safe. Hackers often leave ‘backdoors’ so they or other hackers can regain access at a later date. Make sure you continually review any activity to make sure no emails are being forwarded or security questions have been changed.

De-authorise applications: Although it may be frustrating, de-authorising accounts that are in any way linked to your Yahoo account will be essential. Although many may deem this unnecessary, it certainly is a better idea than leaving an unknown individual in your system – even if it is just precautionary.   


How serious is this? And what does it mean for Yahoo?

The most serious concern for you as a Yahoo users is if the cryptographically hashed passwords were deciphered and used maliciously. Although the hashing scheme used to encrypt the passwords is known to be relatively tough, Yahoo have yet to release any details on it.

For Yahoo, this breach comes at the worst possible time. Earlier this summer, Yahoo had announced it was investigating a breach reported to involve 200m customers. The sudden increase to 500m means “Yahoo may be facing an existential crisis” with their “already besieged business execution issues and an enduring fire sale to Verizon, this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back” according to Corey Williams from identity management software company Centrify.

Security researcher Kurt Baumgartner from Kaspersky Labs believes that Yahoo’s failings hardly come as a surprise: “It’s unfortunate that when we are talking about this organisation, a massive breach doesn’t come as a big surprise”. Baumgartner has also criticised Yahoo’s delayed response, citing it as characteristic if we look at their “delay in encrypting IM communications, implementing https for its web properties and more”.