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INTERNET SPACE
2013 hack hit all 3 billion Yahoo accounts: company
By Rob Lever
Washington (AFP) Oct 3, 2017


US reviewing better tech identifiers after hacks: Trump aide
Washington (AFP) Oct 3, 2017 - US officials are studying ways to end the use of social security numbers for identification following a series of data breaches compromising the data for millions of Americans, a Trump administration official said Tuesday.

Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, told a forum at the Washington Post that officials were studying ways to use "modern cryptographic identifiers" to replace social security numbers.

Joyce's comments come after news that some 145 million Americans may have had personal information leaked, including the important social security numbers, in a breach at Equifax, one of three big US firms which collect data for credit applications.

"I feel very strongly that the social security number has outlived its usefulness," Joyce said.

"It's a flawed system."

For years, social security numbers have been used by Americans to open bank accounts or establish their identity when applying for credit. But stolen social security numbers can be used by criminals to open bogus accounts or for other types of identity theft.

"If you think about it, every time we use the social security number we put it at risk," Joyce said.

"That is the identifier that connects you to all sort of credit and digital and information online."

He said the administration has asked officials from several agencies to come up with ideas for "a better system" which may involve cryptography.

This may involved "a public and private key" including "something that could be revoked if it has been compromised," Joyce added.

The official spoke as US lawmakers opened hearings on the Equifax breach, believed to be one of the worst because of the sensitivity of data leaked.

Former Equifax chief executive Richard Smith told a congressional panel that the breach stemmed from both human and technological error, while offering a fresh apology to consumers affected.

A 2013 hack affected all three billion accounts at Yahoo, triple the original estimate, the online giant's parent company said Tuesday following a new analysis of the incident.

The disclosure from Verizon, which acquired Yahoo's online assets earlier this year, revised upward the initial estimate of one billion accounts affected.

The statement said the estimate is based on "new intelligence" following an investigation with the assistance of outside forensic experts into the incident in August 2013.

"While this is not a new security issue, Yahoo is sending email notifications to the additional affected user accounts," said a statement issued by Verizon's internet unit known as Oath.

"The investigation indicates that the user account information that was stolen did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information. The company is continuing to work closely with law enforcement."

The Yahoo breach was already believed to be the largest ever in terms of numbers of users affected. But a recently disclosed breach by credit agency Equifax is seen as potentially more damaging because of the sensitivity of the data leaked.

- Yahoo brand lives on -

Although Yahoo is no longer an independent company -- its financial holdings are in a separate company now called Altaba -- Verizon has continued to operate the Yahoo brand, including its email service and a variety of news and entertainment websites.

Oath includes the Yahoo internet operations along with those of another former internet star, AOL.

"Verizon is committed to the highest standards of accountability and transparency, and we proactively work to ensure the safety and security of our users and networks in an evolving landscape of online threats," said Chandra McMahon, the company's chief information security officer.

"Our investment in Yahoo is allowing that team to continue to take significant steps to enhance their security, as well as benefit from Verizon's experience and resources."

Yahoo, which was once one of the leading internet firms, sold its main online operations to Verizon in a deal that closed in June for $4.48 billion.

The purchase price was cut following revelations of two major data breaches at Yahoo.

In addition to the 2013 breach, Yahoo said that hackers in 2014 stole personal data from more than 500 million of its user accounts.

The US Justice Department charged two Russian intelligence operatives and a pair of hackers over one of the attacks, which had apparent twin goals of espionage and financial gain.

Canadian authorities this year arrested Karim Baratov, 22, an immigrant from Kazakhstan, on a US warrant.

US authorities allege Russian intelligence agents hired Baratov and another hacker to carry out attacks on Yahoo from 2014 to 2016.

The attacks at Yahoo and Equifax have raised troubling questions about online security and data theft which may be used for fraud or espionage purposes.

Earlier Tuesday, a White House cybersecurity aide said officials were looking at using new types of identifiers online which would eliminate the use of social security numbers, which were leaked in the Equifax incident.

"I feel very strongly that the social security number has outlived its usefulness," Rob Joyce said.

For years, social security numbers have been used by Americans to open bank accounts or establish their identity when applying for credit. But stolen social security numbers can be used by criminals to open bogus accounts or for other types of identity theft.

INTERNET SPACE
Twitter aims to boost appeal with new 280-character tweet limit
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 26, 2017
Twitter announced Tuesday a test project allowing tweets to be expanded to 280 characters - double the existing limit - in the latest effort to boost flagging growth at the social network. San Francisco-based Twitter said the new limit, a major shift for the messaging platform known for its 140-character tweets, aims to address "a major cause of frustration" for many users. Twitter chi ... read more

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