Ex-Yahoo CEO Sorry for Hacks That Affected All 3 Billion Users

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer    
   Matt Winkelmeyer  Getty Images for Glamour

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Matt Winkelmeyer Getty Images for Glamour

US lawmakers will grill current and former executives from Equifax and Yahoo at a hearing today focused on security breaches at their companies that have affected billions of internet users.

Yahoo and U.S. federal agents have blamed a separate 2014 company data breach involving 500 million accounts on Russian state-sponsored hackers. That means the perpetrators had three years to dive into Yahoo user accounts, and to any other internet accounts registered with the same usernames and passwords.

In the end, she said "Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users" data'. Verizon disclosed last month that a 2013 Yahoo data breach affected all 3 billion of its accounts, compared with an estimate of more than 1 billion disclosed in December.

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"To this day, as I understand it, we still have not been able to identify the intrusion that led to that theft", Mayer said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Lawmakers said rigorous security rules are needed to counter the hacks and that companies need "extreme" limits to protect customers' privacy. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., asked all of those testifying, including the interim and former CEOs of Equifax, Paulino de Rego Barros Jr. and Richard Smith, as well as Entrust Datacard CEO Todd Wilkinson, if they took issue with Nelson's contention that a "mere company" can not withstand persistent attacks from state-backed hackers without the help of the National Security Agency.

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

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'Only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will help incentivize companies to properly safeguard consumer information and promptly notify them when their data has been compromised, ' Nelson said. John Thune, chairman of the committee, said.

The Senate Commerce Committee took the unusual step of subpoenaing Mayer to testify on October 25 after a representative for Mayer declined multiple requests for her voluntarily testimony.

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

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