It’s tough ending a 22-year relationship. Trust was broken not once, but at least twice. And while ultimately confessions were made, it was not until years later -- after it was too late to repair the damage.
Thankfully I had ultimately moved on to something younger and flashier. I’m talking about Yahoo.
In September they confessed they had been hacked, and half a billion accounts were exposed. If that wasn’t bad enough, they confessed the penetration had occurred two years earlier in 2014.
And then just last week, they announced a possible one billion more accounts had been violated. Worse, that penetration had occurred in 2013 and Yahoo didn’t find out until the U.S. government found out and let them know last month.
From both hacks, hackers stole names, birthdates, phone numbers and even passwords that were encrypted with a weak encryption technique.
Are you one of the one billion monthly users of Yahoo? I am. I started using Yahoo soon after they began in 1994. The web was smaller then. If you created a web site, you submitted the link to Yahoo. There, actual humans looked at your site and categorized it into Yahoo’s index.
Of course the web grew astonishingly fast, so that human indexing method failed to scale with the net. Soon little bits of code were crawling the net doing the indexing first, with companies like Alta Vista and ultimately today’s behemoth, Google.
Yahoo moved to web crawling in 2000.
In 1997 Yahoo began offering Yahoo Mail, a free webmail service. For many years it was my primary email account. Even when I began using Gmail from Google, I kept Yahoo Mail. Many of my utility companies were still tied to that since that was the email I was using when we bought our home.
So what do we Yahoo users do now?
The first inclination is to close our Yahoo accounts and walk away. That would actually be a mistake.
If you close your Yahoo Mail account your username will ultimately be recycled and used by another user. In fact, the hackers may watch for them to be freed up so they can register them. That way any future emails to that account from someone who does not know you are no longer using it, will go instead to the hacker and give them information.