Telecom giant Verizon could be considering calling off its Yahoo acquisition plans following the disclosure of a large-scale security breach that impacted 1 billion user accounts in the largest known hack to date.
Yahoo confirmed on Wednesday that it uncovered its second major data breach; this one occurred in August 2013. This hack involved an unauthorized third party obtaining names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and hashed passwords from some 1 billion users.
As a result, Verizon is considering a price cut or killing its planned US$4.83 billion acquisition of Yahoo completely, according to a report published Thursday by Bloomberg, citing a source familiar with the matter.
Yahoo first revealed a large-scale data breach in September when it confirmed that more than 500 million accounts were hacked in late 2014 by what the company believes to be a state-sponsored actor.
Similar to the most recent breach, the 2014 hack exposed certain user account information, such as names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, hashed passwords, and in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.
Yahoo said it was made aware of this first breach over the summer. News of the first hack came one month after Verizon formally announced it would buy Yahoo in July 2016.
At the time of the disclosure, Verizon publicly said it would "evaluate as the investigation continues through the lens of overall Verizon interests," including its consumers, customers, shareholders.
Earlier this month, Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL which Verizon acquired in 2015, expressed he was "cautiously optimistic" that the deal was still on. According to Bloomberg, a Verizon group being led by Armstrong is still focused on integration planning between AOL and Yahoo.
However, Yahoo shares fell 5 percent on Thursday, following news of the massive breach and fears that Verizon could back out of the planned acquisition.
When reached for further comment by CRN USA, a Verizon spokesperson pointed to its public statement: "As we've said all along, we will evaluate the situation as Yahoo continues its investigation. We will review the impact of this new development before reaching any final conclusions.”
Despite the breach, however, Yahoo has valuable media assets, especially its sports and finance content, which is still popular today.