Congress grills former Equifax, Yahoo CEOs over identity data breaches

Marissa Mayer

While speaking to lawmakers on Wednesday, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (above) apologized for Yahoo hacks and claims that no company is immune from them.

Mayer joined former and current CEOs of Equifax in testifying before the committee examining recent data breaches.

One of those suspected hackers, Karim Baratov, has even been arrested and extradited to the US.

In March, federal prosecutors charged two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers with masterminding a 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts, the first time the US government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber crimes.

During the hearing, Thune questioned Yahoo!'s former CEO Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!'s security collapses and its failure to effectively respond to those collapses in a timely matter.

Mayer said Yahoo still doesn't know exactly hackers breached all of its users, and isn't sure what flaws it needs to fix.

Ms Mayer said increasing the potential consequences of hacks for the perpetrators would help deter attacks, on both the state-sponsored and commercial side. She said "really aggressive" pursuit of hackers was needed to discourage the efforts, and that even the most well-defended companies "could fall victim to these crimes". A representative for Mayer said on Tuesday she was appearing voluntarily.

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She was joined by the interim CEO of Equifax, Paulino Barros, Jr., who took over after hackers exposed the personal information of 145 million Americans.

Barros told the committee he has focused on improving customer service and revising the company's structure so that the company's chief security officer reports directly to him.

Yahoo and U.S. federal agents have blamed a separate 2014 company data breach involving 500 million accounts on Russian state-sponsored hackers.

He also said the company is on schedule to release a computer app in January that will allow consumers to lock and unlock their credit data. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said.

"Massive data breaches have touched the vast majority of American consumers", said Thune.

They criticised the payouts to top executives after the breaches and asked about more secure ways to identify people than relying on their Social Security number.

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.

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