When security experts tag the adjective “massive” onto your reported hacking scandal things are likely about to go from bad to worse when it comes to your public relations. But “massive” is exactly the term being used to describe the theft of 500 million user accounts, a breach that happened back in 2014, but is just now being widely reported.
And the bad news keeps on coming. Now that they’ve had time to study the Yahoo hack, some experts are saying it could be the biggest hack ever in terms of scale. In the past, MySpace yielded 360 million accounts in a hack, and LinkedIn gave up 117 million. Neither of these comes close to what hackers compromised at Yahoo.
According to reports, information included in the hack “may have included” names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth as well as security questions and answers. This information came directly from Yahoo, so it’s likely accurate … and it may be the tip of a “massive” iceberg.
While no one can accurately offer an accounting of the damage that may have been done, there’s no doubt that this hacking scandal will have far-reaching, long-term effect on the industry and on online businesses as a whole.
As various security firms blast Yahoo and Monday morning quarterback the issue, users are left worried and wondering. Was my information compromised? If so, how much? Could it happen again? If so, where?
A constant tape loop of questions running through their minds again and again. Security officials familiar with the situation say that’s a legitimate concern. Because of the type of information recovered, many other accounts owned by these folks could be at risk as well.
The biggest issue right now is fear of the unknown, both how users were affected and what they can do to protect themselves going forward. Yahoo definitely made some mistakes, mistakes security firms say are inexcusable. So…who can consumers trust? If not one of the most prolific online entities on the planet … then who?
Someone needs to step into the gap and answer that question. Could mean a lot of business for the business willing to take that risk and make that statement.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.