Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer admitted at Capitol Hill on Wednesday that the Silicon Valley giant Yahoo still has not been able to figure out how hackers managed to compromise the information of billions of Yahoo users.
In her opening statement to the Senate Commerce Committee, Mayer apologized to Yahoo’s users, blamed “Russian agents” for the breach, and said that Yahoo has worked quickly to protect user accounts and contact law enforcement.
“This has been a very frustrating week for our users and we are very sorry,” Mayer said.
“For many of us, Yahoo Mail is a lifeline to our friends, family members and customers,” she continued. “This week, we experienced a major outage that not only interrupted that connection, but caused many of you a massive inconvenience.”
A hardware problem in a data center late Monday knocked out a storage system serving about 1% of Yahoo Mail users, according to Mayer. Yahoo Mail is reported to have more than 280 million users, meaning the number of people affected at nearly three million.
“The problem was a particularly rare one, and the resolution for the affected accounts was nuanced since different users were impacted in different ways,” Mayer said.
“As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users,” she told the Senate Commerce Committee, testifying alongside the interim and former CEOs of Equifax Inc and a senior Verizon Communications Inc executive.
“Unfortunately, while all our measures helped Yahoo successfully defend against the barrage of attacks by both private and state-sponsored hackers, Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users’ data.”
“We now know that Russian intelligence officers and state-sponsored hackers were responsible for highly complex and sophisticated attacks on Yahoo’s systems,” Mayer said. She said that really aggressive pursuit of hackers was needed to discourage the efforts, and that even the most well-defended companies could become victims.